Moving forward, it’s hard to imagine a line of work that won’t be radically altered by the prevalence of artificial intelligence and automation. However, contrary to what we might think, Librarians (those who used to deal almost exclusively in a paper based service), are actually riding the automation wave really well. Librarian jobs are in a really good position to weather the AI storm. Gone are the days where libraries only served basic community functions like housing your local book club or children’s reading circle. Libraries are now key to today’s information economy.
Here are three big reasons you might want to become a Librarian, especially in the age of automation.
Secondary Expertise; It’s Ideal for People Switching Careers
What people don’t know is that most libraries love to hire people who have a secondary expertise. If you are not sure where you fit into the automated puzzle, it could be ideal for people who have a lot of knowledge regarding a specific subject. to become a Librarian.
For example, a library would be eager to hire someone who is familiar with something like the history of fair trade practices in a post colonial global economy, even if universities aren’t filling classrooms with students who want to learn about that specific thing. As a Librarian, that super niche grad thesis you wrote could become really valuable. Because being a Librarian is primarily about being an expert in something specific, the Bureau of Labor Statistics actually doesn’t list a supplementary occupation that it would consider remotely analogous to being a Librarian. Despite this truth, don’t feel like you need to spend years doing something else before you step into librarianship.
It’s a Field That is Still Prime for Growth.
Despite the rise and take over of digital media, there is actually no shortage of things for Librarians to do and places for them to work. The BLS has the job outlook for Librarians increasing by nine percent between now and 2026. That’s pretty good compared to the average job outlook of seven percent! In many ways, digital media can simply act as a stand in for the digitization of information. All of those books that people aren’t really checking out anymore still need to be digitized and archived in order for learners to access them in a world that is quite literally consolidating itself and expanding around information at the same time. That alone is the job of a Technical Services Librarian.
Once all of that information is digitized and searchable via a database, User Service Librarians still have to help patrons navigate the databases that only become more dense over time. Beyond that, outside of academia, there are Corporate Librarians who help private businesses conduct all manner of research. Librarians are essentially the physical manifestation of the concept that knowledge is a pool that only gets deeper as time passes. Librarians will always be vital guides, curators and concierges as we explore those depths. This brings us to the final major reason why it could make sense for you to become a Librarian in the age of automation.
A Librarian’s Role is Rapidly Expanding.
We’re all familiar with the stereo typical description of a Librarian as a shrewd no nonsense type who’s hell bent on your total silence. But, the fact is that in 2019 the role of the library as a physical space is expanding, and so is the role of the Librarian. Twenty years ago there was no-WiFi, only microfiche machines. Today, here we are with mobile access to the internet becoming one of the necessities for the development of a healthy and productive society. Where is there always free internet? At the library! Who can hook you up with it, show you how to use it? The Librarian of course.
Beyond that, libraries are now home to larger ventures like free performance spaces for upcoming artists and free meeting room rentals for aspiring academics or entrepreneurs. Some libraries even have expensive, but useful, machinery like 3D printers. Moreover, if you want to learn the basics of something like 3D printing, many libraries that have the machines are offering free or low cost classes on how to use them. These are the tools that will shape our collective future and we need space to learn how we can use them. That’s a huge reason why communities have always backed up libraries no matter what, and a huge reason why they likely won’t stop doing so.
Article by Raz Robinson, journalist and freelance writer, based in New York City and Philadelphia. You can connect with him on LinkedIn, follow him on Twitter @razrobinson or send an email at Rrob0904 (at) gmail (dot) com.