During one of my numerous rants about how dopey people can be, I touched on the subject of how computer illiterate people can be, and how it never ceases to amaze me how many PC users don’t even know what a freaking escape key is. The replies I hear sometimes include the sentence, “It’s job security!” Let me be so kind as to explain why that really, REALLY frosts my preserves.
In my inaugural post, I made reference to the fact that inebriated monkeys are capable of providing basic computer tech support. Things like, “Click here. Now click there. Now click on that link,” or, “You have to type in WWW.google.COM, not just ‘google’ in the address bar,” are not something that require much brain power. Don’t get me wrong. Most libraries have IT guys who are really good at their jobs and are professionals. Yes, IT departments have their share of cranks, but really, who doesn’t these days? I’m living proof.
No, showing people who really should know better the basics of using a freaking keyboard is not job security. If my job ever boils down to, “He prints my stuff for me,” librarians will become extinct. My job security lies in being, for lack of a better term, a librarian.
Librarians are wonderful things. Many of them are the kind of people who will bend over backwards to find what you’re looking for. Some of us take pleasure on hearing little children proclaim their amazement at the fact that they can read books for free (yes I’m an old softy, what of it?). And there are those of us who can make search engines sing in ways that would make Verdi jealous.
Librarians are information powerhouses, community servants, erstwhile social workers (in the case of Mr. X), passionate teen advocates (such as the mind behind A Case For Books, acaseforbooks.wordpress.com), and researchers extraordinaire.
People need help finding things that are not accessible at first glance. That’s my job. Folks want to know what to read after putting down a copy of Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series (try the Temeraire books by Naomi Novik). That’s my job. Web users have trouble navigating through some truly mind-boggling layouts for web pages (seriously, if people can’t get info from your site in two clicks, you’re a blight upon the Internet). That’s also my job!
Eventually such things will become routine as more and more people are connected. But even then, librarians will still be needed. Information is information, no matter how you code, encapsulate, and store it. People will always need help finding it. That is where my job security lies.
Now, may I help you connect to the world-hive-mind and find that virtual reality novel you were looking for?