Librarians Forever!

Title: Librarians Forever

Author: Loretta Gharst

Full Text & Source:

The Internet, Online, 7/4/2016

Sample Text:

The rumored death of librarianship caused by the advent of technology has not, and will not, come to pass. In fact, technology has exponentially increased the librarian’s ability to provide library service. The core of library service is organizing, providing access, and guiding others in the use of materials. Material format changes (handwritten scrolls to printed books to ebooks) and methods change, but the core service roles do not. These service roles can be called the organizer, the gatekeeper, and the navigator. Depending on the size of the library, these service roles may be assigned to different departments or job titles. In the Calcasieu Parish Public Library, where I serve as head of Collection & Computing Services, as well as in other libraries, these service roles have traditionally been handled by Technical Services (now Collection Services), Circulation, and Reference (now Information Services)………

Fast-forward a few years and acquisitions staff was using vendor-supplied ordering software on a PC with a dial-up modem to place orders. We could now print out on-order slips instead of typing. We had purchased an integrated library system and catalogers could now create and save MARC records into the OPAC and use the same technology to print labels for trucks full of books in a batch…..

So what happened to the staff? Many of the same people working here worked here 20 years ago, but their duties have changed. All use networked PCs with internet access to perform various aspects of their jobs. There is not a typewriter in sight. Selection is a living thing simultaneously proactive and reactive on a daily basis. The online selection, ordering, and collection management software has required some staff to become software administrators, configuring and managing remote hosted resources and services. To order from a vendor often means learning its software and managing the tricky interface between the ILS software and the third-party vendor software. Some of the software programs managed by staff are Baker & Taylor Titlesource III, Overdrive Content Reserve (selection and ordering), and Loanshark, the statewide inter­ library loan service.

Creating and maintaining accurate records to improve access to holdings is quick. Catalogers get MARC records from a variety of resources and tweak them to match our local needs. Software programs, such as OCLC CatExpress are tools used by catalogers as a resource for MARC records……

Technology has also affected other library jobs. Libraries require staff for management, building maintenance, and networks, and these staff all use various software programs and the internet to assist them. In our system they use email for internal and external communication; the VoIP phone system; office software to create documents and spreadsheets; special human resources software for personnel recordkeeping; remotely hosted accounting and payroll that ties into our online timesheet; Helpdesk software for problem reporting; Dreamweaver to manage our intranet site; Survey Monkey to create input forms and surveys; desktop publishing software for marketing. A rough count indicates 23 software programs are used by these staff members to do their jobs……..

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In the meantime, library administrators need to recognize the impact of technology on library work and the need to dedicate staff time for training to use technology for library work. Library job descriptions need to take technology skills into account. When staffing libraries, administrators should look for people who have the combination of technology and people skills that will continue to support the core library services of organizing, providing access and guidance in using the library. Libraries will forever need librarians to fill the core service roles of organizers, gatekeepers, and navigators. In fact, in her recent e-article titled “The Future of Print,” Kassia Krozser expresses her confidence in the field’s future when she writes, “your children should all be library science majors!”
Loretta Gharst is the head of Collection & Computing Services at the Calcasieu Parish Public Library. She is a 21-year library technology veteran; supervises a staff of 15; is the library’s strategic planning coordinator; and oversees technology planning and implementation, collection development, and staff development. Her email address is

About Author Annette J Dunlea Irish Writer

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