The final picture of what a librarian might do if their library was taken away, as drawn by Alex Hughes via Meshed Media
Continuing yesterday’s library theme, I thought I’d tell you about Nick Booth’s (from Podnosh) talk at Be2camp Brum 2010 last week. Nick asked, what could a librarian do if their libraries close as a result of digital technologies?
Nick roved the audience collecting answers while Alex Hughes represented them as cartoon images drawing live onstage.
Answers from the audience suggested that librarians carry out searches, that they act as signposts pointing people towards the information they are looking for, they host public meetings, they have indexing and cataloguing skills, they provide social contact.
Two answers didn’t make it onto the picture. One was that librarians watch over a quiet and neutral space and the other was that they watch over a potential dating space. Perhaps these didn’t make it into the cartoon because these are roles played by the library building as much as the librarian. To me this suggests that spaces have important social roles to play as well as people. If mobilising services means losing these spaces then I wonder what the social consequences of this might be? I feel that this is in some way related to the discussion we’ve been having about the role of books and eReaders. From finding that books have a number of roles that eReaders haven’t taken on I wonder if this is also the case for libraries and librarians where the relationship between the two has a very particular role beyond the obvious one of being a place where you go to borrow books.