Carl Grant recently published an article, Are librarians choosing to disappear from the information & knowledge delivery process?, at the CARE Affiliates Blog. It reads in part:
As librarians, we frequently strive to connect users to information as seamlessly as possible. A group of librarians said to me recently: “As librarian intermediation becomes less visible to our users/members, it seems less likely it is that our work will be recognized. How do we keep from becoming victims of our own success?”
This is certainly not an uncommon question or concern. As our library collections have become virtual and as we increasingly stop housing the collections we offer, there is a tendency to see us as intermediaries serving as little more than pipelines to our members. We have to think about where we’re adding value to that information so that when delivered to the user/member that value is recognized. Then we need to make that value part of our brand. Otherwise, as stated by this concern, librarians become invisible and that seems to be an almost assured way to make sure our funding does the same. As evidenced by this recently updated chart on the Association of Research Libraries website, this seems to be the track we are on currently:
The chart is not pretty if you’re a librarian trying to justify your existence. But, on a positive note, after you’ve gotten past the depressing chart Carl Grant lists seven suggestions for products the library world should be providing to patrons.
I recommend this article as a sobering read with a positive spin.