|'Architecture - Futuro UFO' by watz on Flickr|
The day was relentlessly forward looking, and, fundamentally, I'm a special collections aort-of person, and as such, have a tendency to want to retrench back to about 1650 when everything was much simpler... (cue consort of viols in a wistful mode). Not-so-long-ago Katie would have balked at being told that everyone (in the library) needs quite a bit of tech knowledge (Ned), that libraries aren't about books - they're about the information/knowledge held in them, and therefore about power (Phil), that there are academics crying out for 'embedded librarians' to help with impact ratings and article submission (Nicolas). I'm not sure I quite entered the library world naively believing that 'librarians spend their time just looking after shelves of books', but I've been too eager in the past to retreat to the position that 'special collections will always have nice tangible books-as-artefacts in them, so maybe I don't need to worry about the future too much'. That is a position that's easily maintained when cocooned at work fetching beautiful old books for scholarly readers.
But I am already working the future, helping to redefine how libraries do what they do: using the beauty, historical significance and human interest of our special collections to attract all sorts of people into the library, to offer them 'learning opportunities', and to demonstrate that the worth of the library is greater than its (undoubtedly significant) value to serious academics. To be fair, there's not a lot of techno-wizardry involved in that, so it doesn't look immediately 'modern'*. When Phil Bradley declaimed that this is the most exciting of times to be an information professional, rare books librarianship may not have been at the forefront of his mind, but that doesn't mean I can continue to hide myself away. In fact, I don't really want to: brave new world, here I come!
P.S. I also enjoyed the LISNPN meet up in the evening. Thanks to WoodsieGirl for organising it.
P.P.S. Thanks to Phil Bradley for quoting "Libraries are brothels for the mind" in his keynote. I'll be using that in future...
* But I suspect that a lot of online, social media tools are as yet under-used for the promotion of special collections and the like. As I've written before, I really must find out what more adventurous institutions are doing with blogs, flickr, interactive catalogues and the like, and work out how I can get involved.