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A Place For Librarians

Are Librarians Totally Obsolete? the writer provocatively asks. And then goes on to provide 33 reasons why they are not.

Many of the items are repetitive and a few are irrelevant. However, one point really encompasses all the others.

19. The internet isn’t DIY

We try to pretend that finding information on the web is as easy as googling for it.

Locating pages is easy. Organizing the data into a form that’s useful is not.

However, librarians (actually, all educators) need to understand that their job as classifiers and organizers of information is fast coming to an end.

In the course of his 33 reasons, the writer tries to make the case that there will always be a need for physical libraries.

Maybe. But even if there are physical places called libraries, most of the data will still be in digital form.

This random access to material allows anyone to put the pieces together in the way that creates the greatest meaning for themselves rather than using a structure imposed by someone else (are you listening, Mr. Dewey?).

The job of the librarian, and educators in general, becomes a teacher of information literacy. Helping people make sense of and adding context to the flood of data that comes not just from the web but also from print, audio and video.

Libraries and librarians are not obsolete. But, like the rest of us teachers, they need to recognize that their traditional job description is.

librarian, obsolete, information literacy


  1. Carolyn Foote

    Hm, I’m guessing that most librarians already know their job is teaching information literacy!

  2. tim

    You would hope so, wouldn’t you? However, I know far too many librarians who are very wedded to the idea that their domain is providing the structure to information. Which is far different from teaching people how to create their own structure.

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