Tuesday 11 March 2014

Talking about the issues...

In my previous life of library blogging, back when I was a New Graduate, I was very much interested in exploring the "issues" in the library and information industry. 5-10 years ago, it felt like I was working in a field undergoing massive amounts of change, with this brave new world of libraries ahead of me. I felt compelled to stay abreast of new technologies, and reflect upon the practices of my professional peers.

And yet, if somebody were to ask me now what the big issues in the library and information industry were, I'd be struggling. Sure, there are things like the possible introduction of Fair Use legislation which will effect copyright law, or licensing agreements for loaning e-books, which has been an ongoing issue for a while now. There's the emergence of so-called "Maker Spaces", which is really just an expansion of the idea that public libraries should be a community hub for the creation of local content and culture - not exactly a new idea, just new technology. Then there's the matter of library closures / reduction of resources which is just something we need to weather in the same way that everybody else does during these difficult economic times. However, these are things that I feel that I don't have much control over, or have little relevance in my current role managing a school library.

Of course, there's that age-old issue of "librarian stereotypes" - which is such a ridiculous non-issue. If anything, I suspect that there seem to be a dearth of issues for librarians to get up in arms about at the moment, that they possible need to wave the "let's debunk the librarian stereotype by being hip and tattoed" banner just for the sake of having a cause.

I do realise I've spent a bit of time "in the wilderness" lately - sometimes quite literally - and going back to the basics of collection management, cataloguing, and book processing. However, I'm now starting to worry that I'm turning into one of those librarians that I always despised as a New Graduate - the kind that was too short-sighted and focused on the immediate tasks and day-to-day work that they were either oblivious to the big picture issues, or didn't think they were worthy of serious consideration when it came to changing one's professional practices.

So please, somebody enlighten me! What are the real issues that library and information professionals face in this day and age?