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Across the blogosphere there is a buzz about the what the future will hold for libraries. Well kids, I hate to tell you this but the future is now. Think back twenty five years ago when people said that computers would take over the world. People in libraries balked and could not imagine a time without a card catalog. I work with mainly college students and it is a rarity to find one that knows what a card a catalog even is, let alone know how to use one. The only catalog students can get their heads around is an online version. (once I tried explaining the concept to a student and she said ” so it’s like a box that you can find stuff in?” but is another story for another day.”) My point is that libraries have embraced technology from the very beginning. I mean, the concept of the card catalog itself was revolutionary at one time. The problem with the digital divide is that sometimes technology can be portrayed as the be all end all, and in actuality all it is a progression. Also a new technology does not mean everything else went to waste. For example, I know how to search an online catalog better because I used to type out card catalog cards for my librarian mother. Every technology is basically a progression from something.

An example I like to use is Facebook. Now what is exactly was the precursor to Facebook? When I was a freshman in college in the fall of 2001 all the newbie freshmen received “drumroll” facebooks! When we agreed to go to the college we were asked to send a senior picture in, and on convocation day we all received books with the pictures of the incoming freshmen with our names and where we were from. It was a way to break the ice and get to know people in that crazy time we know and love as “college”. Now colleges did this all around the country and the creator of Facebook noticed that people lost their facebooks pretty fast. He thought “wouldn’t it be great if it was online and you could interact with people that way (something you could not lose?”) It was a hit at Harvard and soon it spread to a few other ivy league schools and then to college and now the world. The important thing to remember is that Facebook stripped down is simply a directory of information about people. Now librarians have long used directories in reference transactions to find information. Let me put it this way, if you can use an index, you can find things on Facebook. (You may be able to find too much information, but more on that on another day!) Facebook is not a new concept, it is just a different format from an already existing resource.

The important thing librarians have to understand is that is okay to be apprehensive about new technologies (it’s scary out there). However we also have to realize that we do have knowledge to use them if we have the needs. The basics are already there, we just need to learn a few more tricks and solutions to existing problems may be found. Why do this? Why change at all? The reason we change (even if we do not want to) is that in the end our priority is our patrons. If we do not meet our patrons needs, then the library does not exist. Those who work in libraries strive to help the patrons, because by helping them change the world, so do we.