I only have a few minutes, so this will be short, but I’ve been thinking a lot on two themes lately:
1. The economy of free. Libraries grew up in an environment where information was scarce. Libraries made sense because they could gather scarce resources and share them. Information isn’t scarce any longer. Some forms are harder to come by than other, but largely information does seem to want to be free. In fact, there is such an abundance of information that many librarians are repositioning themselves as experts in helping people filter through information, critique information, or make sense of conflicting data.
2. Citizenry is changing. People are able to participate in the larger discussion in a way they haven’t been able to do before. Someone with very few traditional credentials can make a compelling video, put it on YouTube, and change the course of the discussion. A group of bloggers can pressure traditional organizations to adapt to new needs. Grassroots work is possible in a way that it hasn’t been before.
So this leads me to think about information/digital/computer literacies. I’m pretty much sold on the idea that to be a informed, participatory citizens, people must understand haw to navigate and contribute to the current information environment. This is more than just watching the news and voting. It’s knowing how to find information and critique it. It’s understanding the types of information out there. It’s knowing the venue that will be most effective for sharing ideas and knowing how to produce content for that venue.
This isn’t necessarily the traditional librarian skill set, but I think there’s something to be said for at least thinking about this model. Librarians can rock out the navigation of traditional media. So now I’m thinking again about LIS education. What can we be doing to help people learn the rest? And how hard would it be to convince traditionalists that this is, indeed, valuable?