My grandfather had the largest personal collection of books I have ever seen. As a child I would explore the shelves, reading through the titles of the books, most of which were far beyond my reading level at the time. I was delighted by the sheer vastness of it, but when it came to actually pulling the books off the shelves the amount of dust I found showed just how often the information in those books was accessed. There is the question, “If information is never used, is it dead?”
I have just started my Master’s degree in Library and Information Science. When I told my friends and family about my decision to enrol, they questioned the library’s use in the modern world, where every question can be answered simply by “googling” it. If everything is on the internet, why would anyone go to a library? When we pull the books from our community library shelves, will we be faced with the terrifying amounts of dust I had found in my grandfather’s room? Are our libraries dead?
Short answer: no. Long answer: libraries today are not used in the same way as they were in the past. Technology is constantly being innovated, changing and improving. Similarly, libraries need to innovate, change and improve. The amount of data available at our fingers is more vast than the largest physical collection of books in the world. But libraries are more than physical collections of books. I didn’t enter this program because I love reading. I want to be an explorer and master of the infinite world of data and information. I want to be a knowledge cartographer, creating the best and most efficient methods of filtering through the noise and finding the information that is needed. I want to organize and catalogue, not so that materials and sit on shelves and collect dust, but so they be used to their fullest potential.
This is the dream anyway, and I know along the way I will encounter speed bumps. I’ll find that the field of information is more complicated than I could have ever imagined. I’ll come back to this first blog entry and think “I really didn’t know what I was talking about”. I look forward to that day and all I will experience on the way.