In My Librarian Mind

Friday, October 07, 2005

Technology & Academia

Recently, The Chronicle of Higher Education has published several articles concerning the changing relationship between technology and academia. The ever-changing presence of technology creates the need for an ever-changing view of academia. In the area of academic librarianship a multitude of changes are occurring regularly due to technological advances. During these times it is important for librarians to be pro-active. We need to use technology in new ways and we need to be creative so as to not become obsolete. Due to the sheer volume of information available through the Internet, subscription based databases, and library catalogs library user instruction sessions are becoming increasingly important. The incorporation of non-traditional teaching elements has become essential. Richard T. Sweeney, university librarian at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, believes that incorporating blogs, iPods, and video games into to standard teaching practices to be of utmost importance in the teaching of the "Net Generation" or "the Millennials". He goes on to say that this, "divided attention span", new generation of students learn differently and may not want to hear an hour long lecture.

Michael Gorman, President of the American Library Association, among others believe that catering to a generation's needs is ridiculous. I disagree; times change, the world changes, technology changes, and consequently so do we (as a species) change. The ways in which we process the world directly depends upon the time and place of our existence. In The Net Generation in the Classroom Gorman is quoted saying that he belives "the idea that we have reached a watershed and we have to throw everything aside and come in with new approaches" to be absurd. Here too I disagree, who ever said that we have to throw everything aside? I believe it is our job to be technological savvy librarians by bringing together our collective pasts while simultaneously preparing for our future roles. We, as librarians, need to learn, grow, and incorporate all of our levels of knowledge into the norms and expectations present generation by generation.

Elizabeth Breakstone recently published the article Librarians Can Look Forward to an exhilarating Future. The first sentence says it all, "I expect my fellow librarians to be excited by changes that make information more accessible." That's right! Why then are so many librarians in all walks of life (often) fighting technological advances within librarianship with such a vengeance? Again I come to Gorman and his highly negative views on blogs and bloggers.

As Anthony J. D'Angelo said, "Become a student of change. It is the only thing that will remain constant." The life of a librarian, in my opinion, is one of constant learning. We as librarians come to this profession, I assume, due to some inherent love of the access of data, information, knowledge and wisdom. Many within our profession agree and great strides are being made in the field of librarianship. If the incorporation of technology based tools assists our patrons within their pursuits of higher learning, than I must say it is our duty to facilitate this need.

References:
Carlson, Scott. The Net Generation in the Classroom. The Chronicle of Higher Education. 10/7/05 vol. 52, no. 7.
Breakstone, Elizabeth. Librarians Can Look Forward to an Exhilarating Future. The Chronicle of Higher Education. 9/30/05, vol. 51, no. 6.

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