Thursday, October 25, 2012

Why my job isn't quite obsolete yet

The Atari 400 computer, released in 1979
According to a report from NPR, the Pew Research Center has just released a study on young Americans' use of libraries, technology, and books. Its findings appear to show that despite the growth in the use of e-books and e-readers, there is still very much a place for libraries in the digital age. Younger readers, that is, those aged between 18 and 29, who are enthusiastic users of new technology, are still reading print books.

They are using ebooks, this is in addition to print books, and is not instead of them. Also, libraries are finding new ways of engaging with this age group, such as providing them with a social space, for example.

This is what is happening in the public library sector; it remains to be seen how things will play out in academic or special libraries. For one thing, ebook technology has not matured yet. Technology based disciplines such as computer science and engineering have moved away from print resources and towards digital distribution. Because the body of knowledge in these disciplines develops so rapidly, the problem was that these resources were often obsolete before shipping. In other disciplines, such as theology, missiology, youth studies, education, psychology, humanities, business studies and the arts, the body of knowledge develops more slowly, so this is less of an issue. 

My reading of the situation is that if I am still a librarian in 10 years' time, technological trends will mean that my job will look a lot different from what it is today. There will be more ebook loans and use of electronic resources, and less time and money spent on acquiring, processing, and circulating physical resources.

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