Micah Vandegrift of HackLibSchool has written great post on the future of libraries (or on the librarian of the future, anyway you cut it) on his own blog; it neatly parallels some of the things I’ve been ranting about on blogs and on Twitter this past week. He, too, sees the need for librarians to increase their technical knowledge and abilities, and to increase these competencies fast:
My advice to LIS students? Get digital skills, whether you want to or not. To those who want to work in academic libraries? Get deep knowledge of digital trends, including CompSci, Data science, information architecture, digital humanities, digital archiving practices, CMS’s and yes even programming . . . To current academic librarians, maybe its time to use some of your free continuing education credits and update your skill set to remain in the know.
Kudos to Vandegrift for calling it as he sees it. It’s high time that we stop acting like we’re the kings of the library technology castle unless we actually have the ability and are willing to defend these statements. We need to not only walk the walk but also talk the talk when it comes to information technology as it affects our workplaces, other people’s lives and their research, and our culture in general. Librarians aren’t so removed from this sphere that we can’t accomplish this, but we have some catching up to do in order to make it happen.
On a sidenote, I’d like to note that Micah makes this call to arms without have to deal with any of the off-base assumptions made by Jeff Trzeciak (recipient of the 2011 Jeff Trzeciak Award for Just Not Getting It) in the run-up to and during #fulmac11. I believe this IT question presumes that credentialed librarians are the experts on librarianship and should be the people who organize and run our information centres and libraries. What matters here is the amount of IT knowledge we’re bringing to the profession when we enter it, and also what we’re doing to enrich ourselves and our organizations once we’re there. The letters MLIS (or MLS, etc) will remain compulsory; Let’s just find a way to emphasize the IT within the degree.