Where Have All the Librarians Gone?

So what does the future hold for librarians in the workforce? We’ll soon find out, according to Jose-Marie Griffiths from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In a Tuesday morning session, Griffiths updated the progress of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)-sponsored study that is designed to help us figure out how we need to adjust to the changes impacting library and information science professionals.

“Well, we all know the workforce is changing,” said Griffiths. When we add an aging workforce of librarians into the equation, we have a big challenge ahead. Technology is changing the workforce, and the Web is changing knowledge management. Sure, everyone is hooked on all this information and technology, “but people don’t know what they’re not getting in terms of information.” Users are missing out on lots of information, pure and simple. That’s where a good librarian comes in handy. How do we adapt to this big changing world around us?

Griffiths outlined the parameters of the study, tackling the problem from all angles: eight goals, four tasks, 10 surveys, user-service competencies, staff education, planning and budgeting, subject specialties, and more. The IMLS Future of the Library Workforce survey will be sent out to public and academic libraries, as well as a sampling of special and school libraries during the next few months. Griffiths makes an appeal for all librarians to take the time to fill out the survey and ship it back so all the voices can be heard.

Project partners include the SLA, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Pittsburgh, Syracuse University, Association of Research Libraries, and the American Society of Information Science & Technology.

Barbara Brynko
Editor in Chief
Information Today

One Response to “Where Have All the Librarians Gone?”

  1. Kate September 23, 2006 at 2:39 pm #

    I am a new reader of Information Today’s blog. I am in school to earn a Masters in Library and Information Science and am currently taking Technology for Information Professionals. I found Ms. Brynko’s post especially interesting.
    Undoubtedly, technology is changing librarianship in immeasurable ways. At the same time the workforce is aging, challenging many librarians to learn new technologies or to give into “tech-phobia” and wish to retire early. One of my classmates recently alerted me to the fact that 200 employees of the Library of Congress opted to retire early rather than to learn new technological skills. (http://gslis.simmons.edu/blogs/lis48802fall06/bill/) This is a depressing fact considering that librarians are viewed as (or ought to be viewed as) technology innovators. Librarians are the harbingers of learning new technology and bringing that knowledge to the masses. Of course, this may be seen as an idyllic and generalized view of an entire profession but I think that it rings true with most people.