Technology an enabler – Librarians urged to find new models

05 Jun 2012
LIbrary and Information Association of South Africa President, Naomi Haasbroek accepting a present from ZimLA NEC for attending the conference and providing leadership and support in ZimLA activities.

  “Technology is the catalyst – the opportunity to challenge ourselves – time to adapt, to think out of the box, to move way out of our comfort zones – to be visionary and see a bright and exciting future for the librarian.” These are the words of Library and Information Association of South Africa (LIASA) president Naomi Haasbroek during the keynote address at the 46th Zimbabwe Library Association conference underway in Kadoma. This came at a time when librarians are battling to content with emerging technologies which are fast developing than the librarianship profession. The advent of internet has brought a number of technologies that require continual funding for the library to keep abreast which cannot be done due to frequent budget cuts affecting libraries. The theme of the conference ‘Information professionals at crossroads: opportunity for change’ has challenged librarians to be proactive through using that technology to improve information distribution. Haasbroek said that technology has created exciting possibilities for business, education, and research and libraries are no exception – the new developments in technology have brought new modes of information delivery, new platforms, and new access points. Haasbroek contributions are significant towards encouraging developing new models for running libraries in times of transition. The most critical development to note is Web 2.0 technology that has allowed the users to take control of information delivering tools that are easy and convenient and are available 24/7 outside the library walls. The notion of embedded librarianship should take into effect as highlighted by Haasbroek that the Embedded Librarian is a new generation librarian who no longer sits in the library waiting for the client to visit the library, but who “embeds” him/herself in the faculty, department or classroom. She further pointed out that the new role requires the librarian to become an integral part of the team, to build relationships with faculty and to add value by providing relevant information and assistance to access, evaluate and manipulate the information as needed. The emphasis is on utilizing the emerging technologies to better serve the user in time of need. The embedded librarian is the ideal tool to better serve the “Google Generation”, Generation Y, also known as “Born with technology” (BWT) a group of users who are digitally savvy and communicate via social networks. Technology has dramatically changed the way librarians should model there operations to better serve the new group of users. The conference has provided a new perspective for librarians to understand trends in library communities and how the library spaces are shifting to pave way for new developments. The concept of open access, e-books, kindle and other new web 2.0 functionalities are making it possible for librarians to deliver better and improve the visibility of the library. LIASA president put a new mark through challenging librarians to adopt emerging technologies as a route to take from the crossroads to reinvent and transform the way information services are delivered.

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June 2012