Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Best in Show!!

Now that I am back from the UKSG meeting and have had a chance to reflect on the meeting, I wanted to offer a few thoughts. At the first plenary session where we were waiting to see the two industry giants Google and Microsoft deliver speech's that would change our view of the world, it was the third speaker that really hit the home run. T. Scott Plutchak, the medical library Director from the University of Alabama, Birminhgam with his speech on "The Librarian: Fantastic Adventures in the Digital World" provided the most valuable insight into where we are heading in this digital world.

As librarians we often confuse the term library and librarians and Scott made it clear that the two terms or not synonyms. Many of us are afraid that the library that we know and love is being marginalize. With the shift to digital collections and the influence of Google and Microsoft this decline in importance of the library is accelerating. Many librarians are attempting to do battle with the Google trying to show how misleading searches can be or how limited the information is in certain fields. Give it up!

In Scott's view that is ok to see the library declining in importance as it is the librarian that is the important component in this equation. We have always had a major role in the print world and we will continue to have a major role in the digital age. According to Scott "Librarians fundamental purpose has been to support the process of research and education of our community." The primary tool in the print world was the library. Now as we move into the digital world we need to carry on the same role as before but just change the tools.

Scott's presentation provided a number of examples with the librarian working outside of the library with researchers in their labs and offices and identified this activity to be part of the role in the future. As a librarian I can see the fantastic adventure developing in the digital world. Librarian's are going to have an even greater opportunity to use our creativity to further the interests of our community.

So it is time to stop putting our energy into trying to stonewall the Google's of the world and begin to utilize our information gathering, analysis, and organizational skills to help our community make the most out of the new tools that technology and creative software developers have provided.

Dan Tonkery

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