Kate Greene Stanhope and I spent a very interesting evening with the Legal Literature and Librarianship class last Thursday. We hope that the discussion left folks feeling enthused about law librarianship. It is a great career option with opportunities in various types of law libraries all of which offer intellectual challenge and practical experience.
During the question period, some concern was expressed regarding the future of law librarianship. I think this was particularly, but not exclusively, in regard to law firm libraries. Will law libraries be assumed into knowledge management or information technology departments? Will their role in helping legal professionals find and understand the law fade as electronic legal information becomes prevalent and print materials fade into the background?
I think not. As I said Thursday evening, there will always be the need for specialists and intermediaries to manage and help interpret the burgeoning mass of information. Librarianship has always been a form of knowledge management and new techniques and software do not change that. It is up to librarians to work with information technology departments, to help IT professionals understand how information and knowledge are used, and conversely to understand ourselves how information is stored and manipulated. Additionally, it is up to us to take an active role in strategic planning for our organizations and to make sure we know and interact with the key players.
Related to this discussion, is that of what we call ourselves. Personally, I prefer to be called a librarian. But would it make any difference if I was referred to as an information specialist, a knowledge manager, or a resource coordinator. Again, I do not think so.