Dungeons and Dragons or: Libraries and Librarians

On Friday, to conclude the Best March Ever, I went to “The Future of Reference” hosted by Simmons GSLIS. The keynote speaker, Joe Janes, Chair of the MLIS Program at the University of Washington’s Information School, ended the evening with a bang. He championed the idea that librarians are important. He was, of course, preaching to the choir, but I tend to have a hard time justifying my existence as a library student. Arguments I have heard against libraries include, but are certainly not limited to: “When was the last time that any of our friends went to a library?” and “Libraries are like dungeons.” (Does that make librarians fire-breathing dragons?)

But Mr. Janes unleashed the dragon in his talk called “Information makes us human.” He said that “Our profession is central to what we are as a people. We make humanity more human.” That message had me breathing sweet hot librarian fire. Libraries may seem like dungeons in the incandescent world of Google, but over time libraries have preserved information in a way that Google cannot. Search engines are not save engines. Libraries are save engines. They preserve information that represents a community, a generation, and even information itself. Librarians are responsible for maintaining and discovering information that people cannot find in a world that is overwrought with it. Librarians are the ultimate stewards of information. Information makes us human. After a quick (and loose) application of the transitive property, we see that librarians make us human.

Mr. Janes also said that “the biggest mistake that librarians make is saying that library work is easy.” Any librarian who has said that is surely not doing the job correctly.


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