I just applied for a $500 scholarship from CollegeScholarships.org I had to write an essay answering these three questions:
- How will libraries stay relevant in the future?
- How do you see information retrieval changing?
- Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
All in 300 words or less. It took awhile, but I managed. I am still having horrid flashbacks to the college entrance application I wrote back in 1992. Wait, did I really just admit that? Anway, writing the essay just now—the one for the scholarship, not for entrance into college, reminded me that the skills of traditional essay writing are still very much in demand. The five paragraph essay may be dead, but the brief, explanatory response to a prompt is still very much alive.
Anyway, here’s what I came up with for my essay. Fingers crossed.
Libraries are in danger. When I tell people I want to be a teacher librarian, I find myself explaining why this is still a crucial position. I find myself justifying the money I’m spending for my degree when librarian jobs are in constant danger of budget-related layoffs. I find myself having to advocate for the job I know is vital in educating today’s students and tomorrow’s workforce.
In the face of the many well-meaning but discouraging comments, I continue to see the library as one of our most valuable community resources. I see myself dedicated to this principle ten, twenty, thirty years from now. People will always be looking for information, whether it is for personal need, for school, for work, or for fun. And that need will never go away. In fact, as more and more information becomes available online, professional guidance and support becomes more critical.
To remain relevant, we need to show young people what the library can give them. In past decades parents and teachers brought students to the physical library space. As a child I spent so many hours in the library I felt it’s value in my bones. I continue having that emotional connection thirty years later. Young people of today may find the same connection, but with virtual spaces—in online libraries for their own cities and schools or even for libraries located in geographically distant locales. The best of the next generation of libraries will maintain comfortable, inviting physical spaces for the community while encouraging interaction and resources online. The dual spaces—physical and online—coupled with professional support will keep people there. Even though the Internet is free, it isn’t a human being. A librarian is that person who can help community members navigate the ever expanding world of information. People really do matter.