We interviewed Natalie Pantoja, a library student at Queens College, about her experiences in training, her thoughts on the future of the profession, and where technology fits into everything.
What role do you think technology is playing in your education and how will it impact your career?
Technology is the focus of all of my courses. Library education is structured around how we utilize technology to store, access, and use information. For my career, it is important that I learn to be flexible and knowledgeable about technology because certain aspects of it are always changing. The evolution of print to digital is the next frontier in the profession and I have to be prepared to be a middle woman between people and information.
Do you feel your education is adequately preparing you to enter the field?
I think the graduate program at Queens is probably like other programs in that it is what you make of it and so I’m going to try to learn everything I can about the field. Like any wide-eyed graduate student, I want to make my contribution and be innovative. So far, I have been learning how to catalog books and perform reference interviews.
The approaches librarians take to figure out what library users mean when they ask for a book/periodical/thing, is adapting to online reference tools. Google is the 21st century reference librarian, so we have to make technology better assist people in their searches. You have to instruct library users how to use reference sources and show them that there are resources beyond Google and Wikipedia.
How do you think the role of a librarian is changing and what part do you feel technology is playing in that? How is it staying the same.
I think that if you got your degree fifteen years ago you were probably learning different skills then you would be today. One thing that hasn’t changed about the profession is the importance of being able to help people access information. You have to teach people how to use technology to get what they want. This is difficult now because people are overwhelmed with information. Some of it false. Technology has also changed the way we keep bibliographic records and enhanced convenience for library users. Renewing books and ILL are easy to do online. Librarians are adapting to changes that are inevitable in the field. Google’s book digitization project has been in the news a lot lately, as has the Kindle. I think this is making librarianship more complex and it is really interesting to study what this will mean for libraries and archives.