A common memory or understanding we share from a library experience – whether it was public, academic or private – was being ssshhh’d by a librarian! Talking, noisily shuffling papers or otherwise being too loud are verboten in most libraries. Only churches offer more silent space.
Well, those library walls are starting to crumble. The library of the future may feature less space dedicated to quiet study and more space devoted to presentations, discussion and collaboration.
We end our series of the Top Five Skills Required for Today’s Librarians with #5: Collaboration, Coaching and Facilitation.
Library: More than a Physical Place
As information increasingly goes digital and virtual, the objective of libraries as a place to organize and store physical collections of information will be less primary and more secondary. Increasingly, libraries are becoming a place for meeting, sharing and collaboration. They have always performed this function to some degree, but the day may come when the average library will house fewer stacks of books and individual kiosks and more tables, meeting rooms and auditoriums. You may find yourself spending less time finding information and more time planning and scheduling events!
A recent Library Journal article written by Bill Ptacek includes excerpts from the book, Library 2020: Today’s Leading Visionaries Describe Tomorrow’s Library (Scarecrow), in which editor Joseph Janes invited librarians and library stakeholders to present their visions of the library in the near-term future. Librarians need to consider this quote and how it could impact their careers, long before 2020:
“In 2020, the public library will be a concept more than a place. The library will be more about what it does for people rather than what it has for people.”
Professional librarians will always be valuable in helping people find information, especially when the volume and variety of information is becoming so large and complex. What matters now is how you will manage this shift – from what your library has to what you and your library can do for your clients. Your ability to collaborate and work with people, coach and inform people, and facilitate interesting and helpful use of library space will make you invaluable.
That wraps up our discussion of five essential skills for librarians — Information Curation; In-Depth, High Value Research; Digital Preservation; Mobile Environment; Collaboration, Coaching and Facilitation. The greater proficiency you can demonstrate in each of them, the more valuable and secure you will remain in your profession.
Links to other articles in series for more information on each skill: