When beginning to explore the topics that library students were discussing at the University of Illinois Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS), I decided to seek student feedback through outlets such as the GSLIS open forum and Facebook page.
While there are a vast array of courses to take and topics to explore at GSLIS, I began to notice a common theme throughout the feedback I received, and throughout my own personal class experience. GSLIS places a focus on the future of libraries and librarians and keeping relevant in this ever-changing world of technology.
Not only do librarians need to stay true to steadfast values such as providing service, but they also need to evolve with emerging technologies.
I recently completed a Reference course at GSLIS. I was highly interested in taking this course as I aspire to become a Reference Librarian. During this course, the overall theme focused on how libraries can no longer wait for users to come to the library and seek out a service; instead, libraries need to go to their users by providing them with a service. What does this mean?
Librarians need to provide services that engage their users from outside of the library walls. Librarians can do this by marketing through Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Instagram and many more social media outlets.
In addition, librarians need to provide services that are useful to their users. Today, many users are seeking immediate assistance with their research quandaries through mediums such as e-mail, chat, text and phone.
Another important topic that has been discussed throughout a majority of my courses is social tagging. Social tagging, also known as folksonomy, is where users develop descriptive tags, categorize information and create annotations and commentary collaboratively.
Some examples of online communities using social tagging are: Facebook, Flickr and Goodreads. This allows users to come together as a community and organize information according to their own personal interests. Not only are social media outlets using social tagging, but so are university databases.
One of the GSLIS databases—Library and Information Science Abstracts (LISA)—is encouraging user tagging of their resources. Currently, my research shows that a majority of GSLIS users have not taken advantage of this feature.
However, I know many GSLIS users do use social tagging in their personal lives, such as to annotate pictures on Facebook or Instagram. Therefore, it will be interesting to see the crossover of how users respond to using social tagging in their professional, as well as, their personal lives.
In the end, being a librarian requires a continuous adaptation to the needs of users. In the future, we will see how libraries continue to evolve to assist their users remotely. Also, we will see the effects of social tagging. As always, I am excited to become a member of this community, especially during this important and evolving time.