Librarians are librarians, even without books. I was reminded of this deceptively simple concept at the 2013 ALA Conference during the session, “Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) – The future of learning?” The use of digital resources, such as MOOCs, electronic databases and e-books, are increasing everyday. As a result, the need for physical libraries is in question. However, this doesn’t equate to the disappearance of libraries or the banishing of librarians themselves.
One of the most famous examples of this is the William H. Welch Medical Library at Johns Hopkins University. From 2012, the entire collection transitioned to being completely online with no physical library space, but also with no planned layoffs. Embedded librarians played an important role in maintaining a high level of service and accessibility.
Something similar also happened at Benilde-St. Margaret, a 7-12 private school in Minnesota. In 2011, the school’s library donated nearly all of its books to Africa and focused on mainly providing digital resources. The library remained a collaborative space for education, while the librarian was still an invaluable partner in instruction and research.
The trend isn’t limited to colleges or schools. This fall, Bexar County (TX) will open the doors to BiblioTech, “the world’s first completely paperless public library” (BBC). Boasting a fleet of computers, laptops, tablets and e-readers for patrons, the project is being touted as being both cost-effective and bringing access to an underserved population. Just because a library is bookless doesn’t make it any less of a library, right?
It’s apparent the definition of the library and librarian are evolving, but the goals of providing a high quality of education and access remain the same — with books or none at all.
Wendy Ikemoto is a Library Marketing and Outreach Associate at EasyBib. Harking back to her public librarian roots, Wendy is sometimes seen volunteering at and skipping about the local children’s library. Find more library and EasyBib news you can use on the EasyBib Librarians Facebook page.