Are librarians a dying field?

London, ON, Canada / 106.9 The X

As the accessibility of information has grown dramatically with the Internet, what does this mean for the future of librarians?

Lily Kiteley is a full-time librarian at the London Public Library and has been serving the community for seven years.

While many believe it’s a dying field, she says it’s just adapting.

“It used to be more traditional – ‘I’m doing research on xyz and I want information from an encyclopedia. But now it’s more about, ‘I need to find a government document for example, and where do I find it?'”

With endless search engines like ¬†Google now available, it’s easy to get overloaded with information. Kiteley says this is why librarians are essential, especially in today’s digital age.

“Our job is to help people find good, valuable information, and to teach them that you have to sift through it – it’s not all good sources,” she says.

As the role of librarians is adapting to the changing times, this opens up the space for a new generation of librarians as well.

In order to work a full-time career, aspiring librarians are required to complete a Masters of Library and Information Sciences (MLIS).

Leith Writman is a student in Western’s MLIS program and aspires to get a certificate in Information Policy, Law, and Equity.

He says the careers you can get with a MLIS are not limited to the classic librarian.

“Many of my classmates hope to do public service work at a public library and help out with marginalized communities, some are looking to do reference library work at universities and help professors and undergrad students do their studies.”

As librarians are changing, so too are curriculums for MLIS programs.

Paulette Rothbauer is the coordinator for the Masters of Library and Information Science program at Western, and assures the program is constantly adapting as well.

“It’d be silly to say the world hasn’t changed around technology. But we’re trying to move away from just teaching tips and tricks on how to use technology, and dig deeper to talk about what it means to be able to use technology or not use it,” she says.

As for the stability of librarian careers going into the future, “as long as information is central to the human experience and to everyday practices, we need people who are educated to pay attention,” Rothbauer concludes.

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