College libraries – just about all libraries, if fact – used to be the primary places students went to study. Not only are they quiet and peaceful, but the reference materials students needed were right at their fingertips. The internet has changed this fact to some degree. The noise at today’s libraries is more likely to be fingers on a keyboard than the turning of book pages. But that doesn’t mean librarians are not necessary. In fact, they are more important than ever. Let’s take a look at the changing roles of librarians and the field of library science.
Role of “Old Media”
Books probably don’t get as much traffic as Google these days, but they still are the gold standard when it comes to reliable information. Because the nature of the internet means that inaccurate info is just as easy to find as factual data, books can be a much more helpful resource for in-depth, accurate information. And no one knows books better than librarians.
Access to All Resources
Today’s libraries are outfitted with computers as well as printed materials. That means that librarians and students alike have access to all sorts of resources. Librarians are the best place to start for an information search that will include non-digital sources. For example, a student writing a history of a specific company might find the basic information she or he needs on the company website, but the writer also may need help from books, magazines, newspapers and even very old media such as microfiche.
Librarians have not been pigeonholed into the role of “the keeper of the books” for many decades. People who have more recently entered the field are likely to be called “information specialists” and have a specialized degree in library science. Their training might include technology management, data science, digital organization and cataloguing in addition to more traditional skills. Librarians are found in libraries, of course, but they also work as researchers in large corporations, archivists at newspapers and information managers at universities.
No matter what job a modern library science student ends up taking, there are several tangential skills that will prove crucial on the job. Librarians must be able to multitask as several “customers” request assistance at once. They must be patient and have strong personal organization skills. Librarians also need strong organizational skills when it comes to archiving print and digital information. Many librarians seek training in communication skills, such as those who get more information about USC’s master in communication degree.
Obviously, the role of librarians has changed quite a bit in the past three decades. But library science students are well equipped to continue adapting as resources change. There is a higher need than ever for people who specialize in retrieving high-quality, accurate information, and it seems unlikely that need will ever abate. People who want to learn more about library science can find many options online, and readers can click here for additional info as well. Information is what drives our everyday communications, and librarians are the masters of it all.