Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Wayback Wednesday: Is every librarian a digital librarian?

In September 2010, I wrote a Wayback Wednesday on digital libraries.  Now I want to write another post on the topic, but with a different focus.

We have this concept of a digital library.  If you follow the links below, you will see that there are many definitions of what a digital library is. (more here) Very very simply put, a digital library is some manner of online resources.  There are graduate students who study digital libraries with a goal to become a digital librarian.  What the students learn how to do is to be a librarian whose tool set include the application of normal library ideas to a digital realm. Indeed, because most libraries now contain electronic/digital resources, every librarian is involved in a "digital library". 

I interact daily with students that are interested in digital libraries and who want to take classes in the subject.  Yet, I look at courses such as "reference" and see the amount of digital content in them. Reference is not a course related to the area of digital libraries, yet many digital libraries are used in reference services.  Reference librarian are involved with contract negotiation, discussing the installation of digital resources, etc.  They need to understand a bit about how those digital resources are constructed, in order to teach how to use them.  Does that make a reference librarian a digital librarian?

A cataloguer (or metadata librarian) may not have studied digital libraries, yet the person's work is vital for the creation of digital collections and digital libraries.  Are those workers digital librarians?

I see students learning the latest technologies and delving into database construction, etc., but who do not take digital library specific courses. Yet when they graduate can they call themselves digital librarians?

Or perhaps as hinted in the title of this post, the phrase "digital librarian" has outlived its usefulness.  Maybe it is time to admit that every librarian is a digital librarian.

What do you think?

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