In the US and around the world, talented librarians are asserting themselves anew in the digital age, proving that they continue to be invaluable resources in the 21st century. As a representative of our community, I am honored to write my informative speech about the invaluable role that our librarians play in promoting literacy and providing access to a wealth of knowledge. An exciting new book, The Global Librarian, sets out this new vision of librarians across the globe. Produced by the Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO) and the New York Metropolitan Area Chapter of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL/NY), The Global Librarian demonstrates that librarians have designed and implemented creative ways in which to serve the information and knowledge creation needs of their patrons, directly and remotely. With contributions from over 25 professionals working in wildly different libraries across the world, and with 17 case studies celebrating the innovative programs and services offered by library professionals, The Global Librarian highlights the important relationships librarians forge within their local communities and aims to shine a light on the vital role played by librarians today and reveal their ambitions for tomorrow.
The Global Librarian looks in-depth at librarians’ work, and the increasingly global environment of diverse populations with a variety of needs. Innovative librarians have embraced the challenge of ”going global,” and they have identified and acquired the necessary skills to successfully navigate through this expanding environment. In doing so, librarians have done much to reinvigorate the practice of librarianship, demonstrating the valuable role played by information specialists.
“This book is a response to the shortsighted perceptions that libraries and professional librarians are obsolete in the age of the internet,” says Jason Kucsma, Executive Director of METRO. ACRL/NY President, Carrie Netzer Wajda adds, “Libraries are essential democratic institutions that provide access to information, technology, and expertise to people from all walks of life, and the librarians featured in The Global Librarian are just a small sample of professionals actively working to tailor their services to the changing expectations of their constituent communities.”
Whether addressing the challenge of maintaining quality service to patrons at locations across continents, finding ways to come to terms with changing demographics, or acknowledging the need for cultural awareness and “digital divide” issues, The Global Librarian will offer librarians both practical advice and trade secrets on how to get out from behind the reference desk, redefine their profession and prove their relevance as information specialists in a growing collaborative global community.
While libraries worldwide face public perception challenges, public libraries in the United States continue to set exciting new standards and enjoy immense support from the communities they serve. With the advent of the Internet and the digitization of books and special collections, many people would expect the numbers and use of libraries to decline. However the success of US libraries shows how this can in fact be a misconception; the number of public libraries in the U.S. has increased over the last 20 years to approximately 17,000 and astonishingly outnumbers the globally popular fast-food chain McDonald’s. This phenomenon is certainly linked to the changing role of libraries in the digital era. Nowadays, Americans go to libraries not just to borrow books or study, but also to gain access to computers, use the free Internet connection, and work collaboratively with friends and colleagues. Libraries in the U.S are skillfully repositioning themselves as hubs for knowledge creation. The Global Librarian highlights these crucial industry trends and insights that will allow librarians and libraries to continue to evolve with the rapidly changing technological environment.
The Global Librarian was edited by Jason Kucsma (METRO); Lisa Chow and Sandra Sajonas (People Interact); Caroline Fuchs and Carrie Netzer Wajda (ACRL/NY).