The changing information and library landscape calls upon information professionals, including teacher librarians, to consider their role, collections, services and skill set, and how these cater for patrons now and in the future.
The role of the information professional is moving from simply providing navigational support in locating resources and accessing information to a role more focussed around helping information users filter out the ‘noise’ from meaningful and useful information. Information is plentiful and easily accessible but the challenge for the user is to appraise the relative value and usefulness of different forms of information. As Purcell (2012) found, “Younger search users have the most faith in the fairness and accuracy of the results they get”. Teacher librarians will play a key role in developing students’ higher order thinking skills so that they can evaluate and effectively use the information they find.
Technology is the force driving much of the change, and therefore information services and professionals will be expected to continue to change as technology does. However, information services need to keep up with technological change whilst maintaining an understanding of their clientele and their core services. They need to understand that although technology is changing quickly and they need to change too, their users may need more time and assistance to adapt and understand why change is necessary. Information professionals will also need to assess whether technological change is relevant for their clientele, and resist change if there is no value to be added by making such changes.
I also believe that Frey raised an interesting point when he wrote that many people with specific information needs no longer visit libraries as they are able to find that information online. However, people who read for pleasure still visit their local library regularly. I feel that this requires information professionals to consider how they might find some sort of balance between providing ‘traditional’ and more ‘technology-driven’ information services in order to keep these services relevant for their clientele and to cater for the different informational and recreational needs that people have. Perhaps e-books and e-readers are an example of marrying the ‘old’ and the ‘new’? From a school library perspective, I believe that it will be crucial to remember that literacy is at the core of our business as teachers, and students will need the skills that reading for pleasure builds in order to access and adapt to new technologies that arise.
Finally, information professionals will need to have the knowledge, skills and expertise in the use of new technologies and be confident and willing to assist others in how to use them. They need to be willing to learn new skills and embrace new technologies, something that may be challenging and daunting for some. This will require that information professionals, including teacher librarians, have access to relevant professional learning opportunities to ensure that they feel confident and capable in sharing our knowledge with others.
I think that it will be exciting and interesting to watch the direction that information services beyond the school library take over the years to come and to see if teacher librarians can draw some inspiration for their own libraries.