|Source: Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository|
It seems like every time I turn around, there's a new task that can now be automated or outsourced or a new program that can do what I do accurately and in half the time. Sometimes it's easy, as a technical services librarian, to get a little concerned about my job security. What place DO we have and what role CAN we serve when computers and technology keep on finding ways to do our jobs better and faster?
This concern isn't limited to technical services librarians, of course. I think we can all find similar feelings within ourselves, regardless of our positions or our industries. We may even feel it in our personal lives.
So 3 Geeks and a Law Blog hit the nail on the head with their recent post, What Are Humans Good for... in Legal Services?, and I was reminded that there's no need to fear. I can do something a computer can't do - and that's be a human. I can relate to other humans in a way technology never can, meaning I can more effectively generate ideas, solve problems, strategize, persuade, argue, tell stories, and most importantly, collaborate with others.
Other recent posts have backed up this idea:
Robert Oaks, Chief Library and Records Officer for Latham & Watkins LLP, states "It's not about the library. It's about the relationship the librarian has with those who do or could benefit from the library." View the library as a service, not a location, and shift your perspective and role to be more proactive and prescriptive. You know who finds it challenging to be proactive and prescriptive? That's right. Computers.
A recent survey of faculty and academic librarians done by the Library Journal and Gale shows that there's a disconnect between faculty and librarians, and suggests that you need to ingrain the library in campus culture, actively participate in student education, and seek out opportunities for engagement with teaching faculty. You know who doesn't oftentimes seek out opportunities to further engagement with others? Technology.
The library sector is changing under out feet, and this blog post, by Rebecca Jones, offers 4 ideas to "rewire" our thinking. My favorite one is "The Intelligent Organization of People is Key to Success." Again - it's not the power of our technology and our 'stuff' that defines our success as librarians. It's the ways in which the human dimension works that defines a library's success.
Want ways to help the human component, even while leveraging the best parts of connecting through increased technology? Check out these tips to improve collaboration among remote teams, by Mike Gilronan, where he lists five clear cut to-dos.
And have you realized that technology alone will not make us more efficient and can, at times, make us less focused and therefore less efficient? Technology can actually make us less useful. Collaboration is what leads to efficiency, and this posting by Mark Hunter reminds us that fostering collaboration requires both a shift in culture and in the way we do things.
And finally, here's an interesting combination of out-sourcing and in-sourcing that gave a future-proof strategy to one law firm. "People get the answers they need, better and faster." It's not outsourcing to machines, but outsourcing to expert PEOPLE. Again, people are the key to successfully serving others. Not just the technology.
- Outsourcing Information Services: A Future-Proof Strategy for Law Firms
Terjesen, Donna. Visionary Information Solutions.
- Everyone Is Talking Collaboration
Hunter, Mark. Slaw: Canada's Online Legal Magazine.
- Five Ways to Improve Collaboration Among Remote Teams
Gilronan, Mike. Boston Business Journal.
- Libraries: Rewiring Our Thinking
Jones, Rebecca. Dysart & Jones Associates.
- Survey: Librarians and Faculty a Mile Apart on Need for Better Communication https://campustechnology.com/articles/2015/09/15/survey-librarians-and-faculty-a-mile-apart-on-need-for-better-communication.aspx
Schaffhauser, Dian. Campus Technology.
- How to Enhance the Value of Law Library Services
Gleason, Patrick. Chase Cost Management.
- What Are Humans Good for... in Legal Services?
Mills, Michael. 3 Geeks and a Law Blog.