Hey, it wasn't me that said that. It wasn't even another academic librarian.
It was Joshua Kim in his post from today's Inside Higher Ed, 5 Reasons Librarians Are the Future of Ed Tech.
It's a great post, talking from an outsider's perspective about what librarians bring to the educational process. Kim concentrates on the role that libraries and librarians can play in moving into campus educational technology roles but really, the list he gives applies to the roles that we can play all across the various functions on average campus. Especially those we play as librarians.
Not as explicitly part of educational technology departments or, perhaps, research or outreach offices. But as explicitly part of libraries. Those roles of course encompass facilitating and advancing the institution's educational mission, research activities, governance, outreach, educational technology, the whole enchilada.
The five reasons are, with Kim's full explanation for the one that needs that context the most:
- Service Orientation
- Strong Relationships
- Multilingualism: People trained in information science enjoy the benefits of a broad set of skills and perspectives. Some librarians are trained in the disciplines of the faculty and courses they work with, and all librarians have the baseline of skills to relate to the full range of academics. Librarians speak the language of research, are familiar with its tools and practices, and can connect specialists with the databases, journal and articles they need to accomplish their work. The training and practice of librarians encourages a comfort with a wide range of disciplines, ensuring a common language (and worldview) across the academy. Where technologists might thrive with specialized knowledge (networking, server administration etc.), librarians being largely client facing need to speak many languages.
- Technology Experience
I like the way he ends his post:
The discussion about Library / IT campus mergers is, I think, largely besides the point. Formal mergers may or may not happen, either way the future of academic technology belongs to the librarians (and those most like them). Us non-librarians would do well to learn from and emulate our colleagues from the Library.
So, to the librarians out there reading this, stand a little taller today.
To the faculty members and researchers out there reading this, take a moment and think how you could collaborate with a librarian to advance the goals of your institution.
Thanks, Joshua. We appreciate it.
(Some of this is also inspired by the general academic librarian angstiness going on right now. I'll do a bit of a focused "Around the Web" on that next week, probably Monday.)