53º Congresso nazionale AIB

Le politiche delle biblioteche in Italia
La professione

Roma, Centro congressi Europa
Policlinico universitario "A. Gemelli"
18–20 ottobre 2006

Programma 53º Congresso AIB

Prolusione.  Hello! Any librarians out there? The library profession in the 21st century

Peter Lor
Segretario IFLA


Information and communications technologies are evolving rapidly and in libraries the shift from analogue to digital resources is in full swing. This raises questions: What does the future hold for libraries? Will they be able to adapt to keep pace with technological and deeper societal changes? In future will there still be a profession of people that we would be able to recognise as librarians?

In an attempt to seek answers to these questions two potential "competitors" to our profession are evoked, following which five contemporary, but very different, libraries are briefly described to illustrate the range of library contexts and activities in the early 21st century: (1) The Tweed Gold Coast Campus Library, Southern Cross University, Australia; (2) The Koninklijke Bibliotheek (Royal Library), the Netherlands; (3) The National Library Board of Singapore; (4). The COMFENALCO Public Libraries, Medellín, Colombia; and (5) the donkey and camel libraries in Africa.

The examples illustrate that 21st century librarians carry out diverse tasks in very diverse institutions and contexts. It is argued that this diversity as an asset and a key to the survival of the library profession, since it enables us to explore and occupy a range of niches in the evolving ecology of information. Librarianship is a multidimensional profession which has many names, but the librarian has a generic role: the role of information intermediary, or "informediary", whose tasks can be summarised using the categories of Selection, Acquisition, Preservation, Organisation for retrieval, Resource Discovery, and Access. These categories are not dissimilar to the conventional library functions, but as the environment evolves significant shifts are needed in respect of content and emphasis.

The paper concludes with a profile of the 21st century librarian or informediary, described in terms of skills, knowledge, attributes and knowledge. It is suggested that we have a common professional core that will survive the obsolescence of information media, professional techniques, and the knowledge base that we received during our professional training. Ultimately it is the combination of professional skills and knowledge with the less tangible personal attributes and values that make us a viable and exciting profession for the 21st century.

Copyright AIB 2006-10-16, a cura della Redazione AIB-WEB.
URL: <http://www.aib.it/aib/congr/c53/ec-s.htm3>