Sunday, May 18, 2008

Systems Librarians Everywhere

Suddenly everything is green

As one who handles many more questions about how to do things on a computer than questions about library resources, I was interested to learn from Bill Drew about a book called The Accidental Systems Librarian. It's a little old (anything published about computing in 2003 is going to be dated now) but a lot of the information is still relevant.

One of the points I agree with is that we're all systems librarians to some extent. Unless we prefer to bury our heads in the sand, every one of us has to be up to date with basic computing and how various technologies work. This is not just a matter of getting our work done efficiently, but being able to help our patrons, and it relates to an idea I've been hearing a lot lately: that although the Millennials have learned to expect immediate gratification from technology, they often don't understand how it works. 

And as a newbie to the library profession, I was initially really impressed with all the librarians who seemed to have had the opportunity to live through the computing revolution. I felt they knew a LOT more than I did about computers, because libraries were some of the first workplaces to automate, and many librarians got to experience the whole introduction and development of computers in the workplace.

But in fact librarianship is a mixed bag, and I'm sorry to find out that many of us kicked and screamed and resisted and ignored the opportunity of learning all they could. So now it's assumed that because I'm young I know a lot about technology when more than often I don't, but because I'm curious and interested and can see its importance, I'm quickly picking things up.

And weirdly, maybe this is what people mean when they get so excited about younger librarians entering the field - that we more readily embrace technology. In the meantime, I'm just shocked by librarians who choose not to. 

1 comment:

  1. Nice post and thanks for the plug. I have always had an interest in technology. One of the first memories I have from elementary school is listening to broadcasts of the space launches in the Mercury Program. My earliest exposure to computers was in reading science fiction novels when I was 6 or 7 years old. I was also an electronics technician when I was in the Navy right after high school. Technology scares lots of people but it does not scare me. I definitely enjoy gadgets and using computers. Younger librarians may have had computer technology all around them as they grew up, but it certainly does not mean that all young librarians embrace technology. I too do not understand why many librarians fear it. Technology is just a tool for accomplishing a task. It is not an end by itself.