10 Years Later,... 10 Reasons Why the Internet Should Not Be a Substitute for a Certified Library Media Specialist
In 2004, Mark Herring in an American Libraries Online post argued that "given the condition of reading test scores among school children nationwide, it isn't surprising to find both our nation and our culture in trouble." He felt that the only reason students were continuing to visit the library was to get Harry Potter books; and he worried that once all schools had internet access that libraries would be obsolete. I can say that I am glad that Mark Herring was concerned about libraries and our culture, but I don't believe Mr. Herring had the full picture.
You see, culture--that complex combination of our collective knowledge, beliefs, art, morals, customs, habits, and traditions--is in no way measured by reading test scores. In fact, I am not really sure that reading test scores measure anything other than our students' abilities to take that particular test on that particular day. Our students are proving every day that they are adding to our collective knowledge, developing beliefs, art, morals, and habits, breaking down customs and traditions and are creating the new paradigm that will be culture in their futures. There is no way that test scores are going to measure that.
I am now a part of the Intertopia, the society dependent on the Internet and I would like to say that while the Internet is providing replacements for some aspects of the library, it--the inanimate corpusal of 1's and 0's--has not found a way to replace what is the essential element of libraries in schools--the certified library media specialist.
I am now a part of the Intertopia...
Here are 10 reasons why our schools need the only tech savvy, transliterate, information navigator in your school, that is the library media specialist.
1. (10 years ago...Not Everything is on the Internet.)
Now...Everything that matters is on the internet.
With the Internet, we are able to travel anywhere in the world. Libraries and repositories of knowledge and art understand that for their collections to be relevant, they must provide information where patrons are accessing it. Patrons are not going to the building; they are going to the Internet. Digitization projects abound in every institution around the world that would like to claim to be a relevant source of knowledge for our culture. With so much information provided on the Internet, we still have the basic problem...How do I find it? Who will help us navigate?
2. (10 years ago...The Needle (Your Search) in the Haystack (the Web)
Now... Do you know the haystack that your needle is in?
When the Internet began, it was a vast dumping ground for every uncataloged or uncategorized bit of information that any user could think to contribute. Libraries now provide databases to guide searching. Search Engine Optimization is one of the hottest topics to date in web development. In short, who is helping you find your needle?
3. (10 years ago... Quality Control does not exist.)
Now...Control is an illusion. Quality of information depends on the needs of the user.
There are times when a user may need to find quality, reliable information from a trusted source. Other times, we would like to read a blog about another person's experience, which may not be the opinion of an expert. We may want to create our own website about underwater basket weaving for which we know nothing about for entertainment. Every user has an information type they are seeking, but not every type of information is for every user. (Thank you, Rangathan. Your law still applies.) Who will help us find the level of quality to match the level of need?
What you don't know is not reliable in your experience.
4. (10 years ago...What You Don't Know Really Does Hurt You)
Now...What you don't know is not reliable in your experience.
When the Internet first began, omissions of the completeness of information were common. An article may be published without citations for the sake of space. This is no longer true. If my site is to receive usage and the traffic that will elevate the status, prestige, and usage of the site, then it must provide the highest quality and most complete information as possible. Incomplete is not reliable and therefore not used. So, who will help me ask the right questions to find the most complete information?
5. (10 years ago...States Can Now Buy One Book and Distribute to Every Library on the Web)
Now... eBooks are not the end of publication.
Somehow, in 2004 many feared that e-publication would make scholarly information less available. This is simply not true. e-Publication has made a vast amount of scholarly publication available in parts of the world that once had no access or no funding to purchase the printed version for access. In short, the library has a new home and it is online. ...and I will still need someone to point me to the right place to find the publication that I am looking for.
6. (10 years ago...Hey Bud, You Forgot about E-book Readers)
Now...Bring Your Own Device has allowed the revolution to move faster.
The lack of a safe and viable device to read epublications was another fear in 2004. Many thought the cost of ereaders would damage the abilities of libraries to provide access. The cell phone revolution saved us from this peril. Thank you, Steve Jobs. You called this one. Now, epublications can be accessed from any smart device. Our libraries will need someone who is skilled at navigating multiple platforms.
7. (10 years ago...Aren't There Library-Less Universities Now?)
Now...Have No Fear, the University Library is Here...to Stay.
Yes, but we may be calling it something else... like the Learning Commons. As it is clear that our global society is experiencing a revolution in the way we learn and provide information, it is only expected that our universities will experience the same changes, hiccups, and more changes to meet the needs of the global society. Who will be the information navigator in this situation?
8. (10 years ago...But a Virtual State Library Would Do it, Right?)
Now... Digitization will not break the bank.
Institutions around the world are proving every day that we can afford to put information in digital format and share it on the web. We are finding news ways of doing business and new ways to pay for the new access that is required in a global society. When we use those new sharing platforms, we are not only making new access relevant, but also making it more affordable with each usage. Who is encouraging the digital projects that are available to your community?
9. (10 years ago...The Internet: A Mile Wide, an Inch (or less) Deep)
Now...Older does not mean better.
What was true of scholarly study fifty to seventy years ago is not true now. It was once important to provide research over the course of several decades to prove or support a point in scholarly study. With the rapid changes in technology, also comes an acceleration in the creation of research, which also increases the speed of irrelevance of information as well. Information is experiencing a shorter "shelf life." Who will guide you to latest information?
The Internet is Ubiguitous and Devices are Portable.
10. (10 years ago...The Internet is Ubiquitous, but Books are Portable)
Now...The Internet is Ubiquitous and Devices are portable.
Yes, we have nearly a 1,000 years of reading print and we will continue to read print, but it will be provided on our device of choice. Twenty years ago, I could not live without the morning newspaper. Today, that is still true, but I am reading a digital version of the local paper on my iPad. We don't know what to expect in our foreseeable future, but we can expect change. Is your librarian or certified library media specialist ready to embrace it?
Thank you, Mark Herring for supporting libraries and being the voice that spoke in support of our profession 10 years ago. I hope in ten years there will be a person to reprise my post and point out all of the things that I could not foresee with regard to change. Who knows what we may become, but for now I am a certified library media specialist living in Intertopia providing GPS navigation of the Internet to the users of my learning commons. See you there.