Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Thing 34 - not a competition

Asked to read articles on whether librarians compete with AskA services, my thoughts are mostly in the No camp. I know some questions can be answered quickly there, but do I want someone seemingly untrained to answer questions that are *very* important to me? No. I want an answer that comes at me from all directions. I want responses to an important question answered from authoritative resources -- known, credible, and answered from someone who cares that I get the right answer. This being said, I understand how easy it is for someone to rely on an AskA service, get a quick-and-dirty response to something they've pondered. There are times and places when Google answers questions, but not always.

If a good reference librarian cannot find an answer, they'll readily recommend a department, an agency, an expert, a place, or a person who, even if they too cannot answer a query, can lead me in another direction to find the right one.

It scares me to think of all the K-12 librarians and media specialists who have been cut from schools. If someone does not give proper direction and instruction to these budding minds, will they become a generation of "google does it all?" I sincerely hope not. College and University libraries should not be the only place to have properly and adequately trained librarians working with students and those being educated. Even the college and university librarians are being re-purposed.

It may sound like I'm trying to protect my own job. Granted, I don't want to lose my job, and I do realize evolution is happening whether or not we want it to. I'm happy to learn how to do things differently and to learn new things. One of the things that makes me happiest about being a reference librarian is that I learn from people who ask me to find answers for them. It's sort of like stealing, but the information was there to be found, I just didn't know the question to ask!

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