Library and the Future

This morning I attended the Town Hall meeting where our Dean talked about new Provost’s memo. In the memo, the Provost talks about decentralizing the library and setting up committees to see what can be done to improve library service to USC community. Ever since this Provost took his position, he has made many changes, hired a group of new executives and changed many offices and systems. His action caused the library administration to cut budget big time. There has been rumors about possible lay offs too.

Our library has been working toward centralizing for the past decade since our dean Jerry Campbell took office. Now this Provost is going exactly opposite of what our Dean has trying to achieve. No one like changes and there are uneasy feeling among the librarians about these new policies. The dean himself, when making the speech this morning, did his best to calm everyone down. In his usual calm and inspiring tone, he urged everyone to think about what new role the library should take in the future. Nowadays, everything is moving toward digitization and putting more resources online. Lesser people go to the library to look for the actual data. If the school needs $300 millions to operate the library for the next decade, how can the library justify itself to continue receiving support from the school? What kind of role and function should library take? These are very profound questions that Dean Campbell asked us to think about and give him feed backs.

Indeed, with the new technology, it’s very possible that the need for traditional libraries will gradually diminish. This change also puts a great impact on my future as well. On my personal statement to the library school application, I have to put down which path I want to take. Whether to be a traditional librarian, or go for the informatic path, I’m still struggling between these two. I have been working in academic libraries for a long time and I’m familiar with the works. I also want to go for East Asian study librarian since I have the language advantage. On the other hand, I’m interested in learning the newest technology as well. I can sit in front of computer all day digitizing. Traditional librarian require more interaction with people. So I don’t know…..really hard to choose….which future path will be good for me?

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