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CNN: The future of libraries, with or without books

September 6, 2009

Food for thought on a Labor Day weekend, from CNN:

…By some accounts, the library system is undergoing a complete transformation that goes far beyond these image changes.

Authors, publishing houses, librarians and Web sites continue to fight Google’s efforts to digitize the world’s books and create the world’s largest library online. Meanwhile, many real-world libraries are moving forward with the assumption that physical books will play a much-diminished or potentially nonexistent role in their efforts to educate the public.

Some books will still be around, they say, although many of those will be digital. But the goal of the library remains the same: To be a free place where people can access and share information.

“The library building isn’t a warehouse for books,” said Helene Blowers, digital strategy director at the Columbus [Ohio] Metropolitan Library. “It’s a community gathering center.”


This shift means the role of the librarian — and their look — is also changing.

In a world where information is more social and more online, librarians are becoming debate moderators, givers of technical support and community outreach coordinators.

Granted, this is mostly focused on public libraries, and there are some things I would quibble with, but it’s worth thinking about as a whole, especially on the view of the librarian and given that SLA is looking to rebrand to better reflect what we do as corporate librarians / information professionals. 

If this is where the definition of librarian is changing, how does that affect the public definition of “corporate librarian”? Does it then become a misnomer?

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