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Director's Column

PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.

The Next Generation of Librarians

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, March 12, 2006

The new book is titled, "The NextGen Librarian's Survival Guide," and it was written by Rachel Singer Gordon.

 

My view from age fifty-two is what is "NextGen?"

 

Of course, I realize that it is the 21st Century version of the phrase "Next Generation," but in the current world of Instant Messaging, the King's English is being rewritten.

 

In any profession, waves of younger librarians have always moved into library workplaces.

 

New professionals interact with their older colleagues to create the next generation of librarians.

 

Well, that was the way it used to be.

 

Today, age is not a deciding factor for new professionals in the library market place.

 

In the 21st Century, people change careers at middle age, so the actual age of a new member of the profession is not the stereotypical person aged 23.

 

Technological change has impacted librarians.  The difference now is that current new professionals have grown up with technology, rather than being instructed on technology as my generation was.

 

Today's librarian must demonstrate the relevancy of libraries to our society.  It is no longer a given fact that the world can exist with or without libraries.

 

It is interesting to note that for 25 years the demise of libraries has been predicted, yet we continue to exist and are used by more and more people annually.

 

The skills of today's librarian are in demand in other professions, and we are losing more librarians to alternative professionals every year.

 

Like other professions, librarians are "graying" at a rate faster than new professionals are taking our place.

 

A factor that is emerging in all aspects of American society is called the "post-9/11 economy."

 

Since 9/11, there has been a shift in public spending away from the nation's infrastructure and that is having a negative impact on spending for local government services.

 

The book has an interesting review of the different generations in our society today.

 

Today's workplace has four generations of people, all of which overlap to some degree.

 

The Veteran's Generation (1922-1945), also called the "Silent Generation," was impacted by World War II and the development of the post-war United States.

 

Baby Boomers, (1946-1964), were impacted by social issues, the Cold War, and science achievements.

 

Generation X, (1965-1978) relate to divorce, AIDS, and MTV.

 

Generation Y, (1979-2000) grew up with the Internet and 9/11.

 

An approach or an attitude, rather than their age or the generation that defined their age will define the next generation of librarians.

 

The author hopes that we can find a way to use the assets of all generations in the library profession.

 

I wonder how history will view our times fifty years from now.

 

As I am writing this, my re-certification has arrived making me a "Certified Public Librarian" in the State of Ohio until January 31, 2011.

 

I wonder what the requirements will be in 2011 for a public librarian.