This is the view from the reference desk at my place of work. When I first saw this room, my first thought was ‘gentleman’s club’. And in many ways it was until 1933 :).
The library can bustle in busy times, but in this moment, the library is in a state of repose. Desk shifts can be very quiet at times, which made me think of a recent article about how the Internet has turned everyone into librarians.
That the Internet has made more information accessible in undeniable. People who otherwise would have had to navigate vast print resources and would have relied on information specialists are now undertaking the bulk of their own information seeking themselves.Every day people are being empowered through the information they are finding and locating themselves. They are arguing over classifications of musical styles on fora, sharing links and information through Twitter and Facebook and undertaking transcribing duties through crowdsourcing activities such as the Australian Newspapers Digitisation Program.
Where does that leave the librarian? In many ways the Internet has made me a better librarian. I am able to answer questions more quickly and efficiently. I know that there is more to what’s available than a search engine or Wikipedia can provide. I love the fact that there are cool databases available through university libraries with hundreds and thousands of amazing articles that I can search!
There may come a time when the job of a reference librarian may no longer exist, but as a profession we can evolve.
I also know that despite the historic nature of my library, its real treasure is not the table or the books, but the people that staff it with their own wealth of knowledge.