I particularly appreciate the post below. It may have taken some courage to write, and if so well done and in any case many thanks. I have no idea what I shall say at Oxford but I hope to reproduce this post.
Peter, I’ve been reading your posts on libraries/librarians of the future and want to thank you for shaking me out of a comfort zone which it’s so easy to fall into. I understand your need to encourage debate among ULibrarians, but as an LIS student who is halfway through her program and interested in medical/science librarianship, I can’t help but see your provocative statements as a call to students like me who need to be better aware of the profession we’re walking into. I realize that may not have been your intended audience, but the “librarians of the future” who are being educated as we speak would do well to hear what you’ve been saying. I’ve tagged your blog for a class Twitter account and I’m hoping that others in my class are taking the time to read what you wrote and be shaken out of a comfort zone too. What I’m trying to get at is that I think having ULibrarians as your audience is limiting. Challenge the ones who are coming into the field and still starry-eyed enough to consider change that meets the needs of our clients/users/patrons.
First, you were exactly the audience I intended – thoughtful, constructive and prepared to speak your mind. I’m writing for anyone who happens across my blog or gets it relayed – not just ULibrarians. I’ll reply as if you and your fellow students are early in your career…
Young people are the future. Probably the most exciting part of my year is when we get ca 5 undergraduate students into our lab for the summer and they work on speculative projects for 2-3 months. Their enthusiasm and lack of perceived practice is a major strength. Nothing is impossible. They explore the future for us and much of what they have started has turned into more mature approaches.
Whatever a medical librarian is now it will be different in 5 years time. So you have to practice change on a daily basis. I know nothing of your course (and don’t want to intrude) but if it lets you and your colleagues explore new areas in a communal way go for it. In chemistry some of us have been building virtual worlds in Second Life – maybe there already is an equivalent for medicine – if not maybe it needs creating.
The new web is particularly important for medicine, which affects everyone’s lives. Many/most people will consult the web before they consult a physician. That is the patient’s medical library of the future. Find out how it works, see what you can do to build it, change it, etc. Medicine is particularly challenging because trust and quality are critical as lives depend on it.
Are you familiar with Medline and Pubmed? This is where the world’s primary reports of medical science appear. It’s overwhelming – thousands of new articles a day. We have to work out how to manage it to our advantage.