I was sitting in the lobby of my dentist’s office waiting for my appointment to begin. A few people were flipping through magazines and chatting. One lady looks over and notices my employee badge and asks me where I work. I tell her I am librarian in a middle school nearby (this was last year). She smiled in surprise (and a little condescendingly) and said, “I didn’t know we had librarians in our schools any more . . . with the internet and all.”
Stunned silence ensued as I tried to sift through the onslaught of thoughts that flooded my mind at that moment. Where does this thinking come from?
Since the beginning of time, man has built machine after machine to aid in complex computational operations. It began with the abacus, continued with Babbage’s Analytical Machine. Now, with the modern computer connected to an internet, a vast ocean of information has exploded. We cannot as a society go one day, or one second even, without the aid of computers and web processes. It’s the lifeblood of today’s world. The power grid would shut down, cars would crash, airplanes would fall out of the sky, and employees wouldn’t get paid.
The Electronic Age is upon us.
How on earth does this eliminate the librarian? It doesn’t. In fact, the same skills and talents needed to manage print media in the past of the Industrial Age is ever more needed during this time where information has grown exponentially.
“In biological terms, there are 7.2 billion humans on the planet, each having a genome of 6.2 billion nucleotides. Since one byte can encode four nucleotide pairs, the individual genomes of every human on the planet could be encoded by approximately 1×10^19 bytes. The digital realm stored 500 times more information than this in 2014.”
Amount of digital information worldwide (5×10^21 bytes) versus human genome information worldwide (10^19 bytes) in 2014.
And the quantity doubles every 2.5 years!
Hilbert and López go on to say it will equal the total information content contained in all of the DNA in all of the cells on Earth in about 110 years.
The librarian isn’t gone, but transformed. What’s needed now is a Cybrarian; someone who can effectively leverage the bazillion bits and bytes that occupy the ever-flowing and growing digital space. Even more so in our schools since our children grow up in these digital spaces that can overwhelm, confuse, and paint false pictures of reality.
So I say rise up Cybrarians. Your superpower is digital fluency and you carry that mantle well!