Monday, January 07, 2008

Sexy Hot Trends for 2008 and Beyond- Librarians

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I would like to start off this post by saying that even last year and the year before and the years before that i have always thought Librarians were hot (and that i put the world sexy in the title to drive traffic)- but it certainly puts a smile on my face when i see the topic coming up in blogs recently and agree with the trends that we are seeing.

No one can dispute that the skills that Librarians have are becoming more valuable as more and more content is being produced on the Internet and sense needs to be made out of it.

When i first went to Library School i was pretty sure i didn't want to sit behind the reference desk- but i really didn't know what i wanted to do or what a MLIS (Master of Library & Information Science) would equipment me for. I had a strong feeling that it was what i wanted to do so i trudged through all my classes - sometimes bored out of my mind and sometimes fascinated - but always learning important principles of information finding and i admit i cried after my cataloging final (but got a B anyway!). An adjunct professor by the name of Doug Riecken from IBM Watson Research turned me on to intelligent agents and Marvin Minsky and it was enough to convince me that this was the right path for me.

The hot trend we are seeing is that Librarians, Information Professionals, Information Scientists etc. (those with MLIS background) are increasingly being recognized as having important skills sets for dealing with the information overload. It really isn't a new trend, I think one of the earliest cheerleaders of Librarians on the internet was Peter Morville ( a Librarian himself and one of my heroes). I recently re-listened to the Talking with Talis podcast from this summer in which Morville ends the conversation by explaining why people should definitely consider a career in Library Science.

The hipness facture however probably started last year with this article in the New York Times back in July on "A Hipper Crowd of Shushers"- wow cool people are librarians as well!

Over on ReadWriteWeb Marshal Kirkpatrick blogged about the hotness of Librarians twice first with Sexy Librarians of the Future Will Help You Upload Your Videos to YouTube where he writes a sample scenario about how Librarians can make the social content you are producing more valuable by addressing findability aspects. He also embeds a quick 3 minute section of an interview that Microsoft's Jon Udell did on the Talking With Talis podcast (these guys are everywhere!) in which Udell talks about how "the librarian of the future will help a growing number of citizen media producers to classify their online media and get it connected to other related content in ways that will increase its discoverability". And the second post highlighting a recent Pew Internet study that highlights that the Library and the Librarian are far from extinct (although many follow up conversations are questioning why young people are going to the physical library).

So when issues of privacy come up like those that have been raised by the recent Scoble Facebook incident why wouldn't we look at some of the principles that Librarians have established and continue to fight for? Who among them have not, at one point or another fought for the privacy of their patron's data without limiting access to information? Starting in the 1930's the American Library Association (ALA) recognized the need for librarians to take privacy issues seriously and they have never stopped.

As Librarians create and participate in online communities they are acutely aware of the issues of privacy and are applying those well learned privacy skills to these new domains. I just pulled this report from OCLC (Online Computer Library Center) Sharing, Privacy and Trust in Our Networked World- relevant chapter that i reviewed Privacy Security and Trust provides an interesting look at the topic from a global perspective across a large age set of over 6,500 participants addressing privacy rules (starts pg. 16)
  • The majority of respondents feel that it is important to have controls over their personal information on the Internet, such as the ability to remain anonymous, specifying who can use and view it, and knowing there are privacy policies in place.
  • Respondents frequently do not take advantage of privacy controls that are available.
  • Respondents want to control their identities online; they want to remain informed on how their information will be used and they want to be able to set parameters around who can view and who can use their personal information
  • Less than 40% of total respondents review privacy policies on social networking, social media, commercial and library sites before registering

I would like to see some of these Library organizations participate in the initiatives that are starting to take shape so we can leverage their experience with issues of discoverabilty, sharing and privacy. That would be Hot!

(note: i am one of the original Dataportability workgroup members but not on behalf of any organization)

And i just had to add this: While searching for sexy librarians, I found this great site by a fellow Rutgers SCILS alumni and author Holly Black- Librarians are Sexy, Smart, Radical, Famous (did you know Karl Marx was one?).

Super Librarian Image above is from from the NJ State Library which includes the great Super Librarian Comic Book . You can also buy Super Librarian gear if you are so inclined.

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