Shirky & Librarianship
Posted by selinalock on 19 August, 2008
So, I’ve just finished reading Here Comes everybody: the power of organizing without organizations by Clay Shirky. (see amazon & UoL library) and I’ll be doing several posts about ideas discussed in the book.
Shirky argues that a scarcity of resources creates a profession, for example, librarianship developed as a profession due to there being few libraries and many users.
With regards to newspapers he also argues that they don’t yet realise that they’ve become obselete as “the web didn’t introduce a new competitor into the old ecosystem…the web created a new ecosystem”. The same argument can be applied to librarianship, as the web has totally transformed the way people get information. It is no longer a scare resource that requires professionals to organise it in order for people to access it.
Not a new concept to librarians, as we’ve been arguing over whether our profession is dying for at least the last decade! However, I find it interesting that one of the main thrusts of Here Comes Everybody is the way that internet applications are completely changing the information and communication culture, which is obviously going to impact on how and what our jobs are.
“The more an institution or industry relies on information as it’s core product, the greater and more complete the change will be.”
I think in the forseeable future there will still be a place for traditional librarian skills, as we will still need people to organise and care for our print collections…but what about those of us whoose users are rapidly moving away from print and library resources?
Shirky argues that in the past the price of print publishing meant there was always a systems of filter then publish, with the net the system has become publish then filter. Where do librarians fit into the new system? Have we become obselete without noticing?