The Future of Libraries/Libarians

Are libraries a thing of the past? Are they dinosaurs that can be drastically cut to save both public and institutional costs? In the future will we still need librarians? For that matter, what’s a librarian for besides checking out books and shushing folks? Did you know you had an information expert on your side?

Check out the display case on the second floor of the Saint Paul Library and the quotes below, then join the discussion by adding your comments.

What Librarians Are Saying

Richard Rubin talks about all of the negative terms that people use when they talk about the abundance of information available today, words like overload, flood, and explosion. He goes on to say that librarians are among the few professionals who are “devoted to helping people find their way among the bewildering variety of information sources.”

In a lecture on “Breaking the Barriers of Time and Space: The Dawning of the Great Age of Librarians,” Scott Plutchak says “In the digital age, physical libraries are becoming less relevant to the communities that they serve. Librarians, however, are more necessary than ever in helping members of their communities navigate the increasingly complex information space.” He talks about his objection to saying things like “the library does . . .” Libraries, Plutchak  says, “don’t do anything—people do.” This change in phrasing can be as hard to adjust to as changing to inclusive language for God—we have to break old habits.

David Lankes begins his Atlas of New Librarianship with a mission statement, “The mission of librarians is to improve society through facilitating knowledge creation in their communities.” You can see his diagram of librarianship in the library display.


Lankes, David, The Atlas of New Librarianship, (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2011).

Plutchak, T. Scott, “Breaking the Barriers of Time and Space: The Dawning of the Great Age of Librarians,” in Journal of the Medical Library Association 100 (1), January 2012.

Rubin, Richard, Foundations of Library and Information Science  (New York : Neal-Schuman Publishers, 2004)

Explore posts in the same categories: General Information, Knowledge Management, Uncategorized

3 Comments on “The Future of Libraries/Libarians”

  1. David Firman Says:

    A book is a fragile creature, it suffers the wear of time, it fears rodents, the elements and clumsy hands. so the librarian protects the books not only against mankind but also against nature and devotes his/her life to this war with the forces of oblivion.
    Umberto Eco

  2. John Schnake Says:

    Seth Godin had a very good post on the future of libraries and librarians last year. In particular, I like his definition of a librarian:

    “A librarian is a data hound, a guide, a sherpa and a teacher. The librarian is the interface between reams of data and the untrained but motivated user.”

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