One of the ironies of the information revolution is that finding relevant and accurate information can be more difficult than ever before. We are in fact buried by news, blogs, Twitter feeds, and other internet content; magazines and newspapers and newsletters; 24-hour news channels in every time zone; and books, increasingly self-published, on every possible topic. How do we figure out what is useful in this inexhaustible supply of information? How do you think critically about the accuracy and reliability of these sources?
Fortunately we have experts in answering these kinds of questions: librarians!
Librarian's are trained experts in the many ways of finding information. They can teach a set of skills that are seldom central in "regular" courses but increasingly indispensable in today's economy and society.
Librarians, however, are often some of the first educational staff put on the chopping block by budget cuts. For many, librarians are just people who shelve books, or perhaps "extras" that we might do without. Maureen Sullivan, the president of the American Library Association, helpfully dispels this belief in an op-ed this past Monday. Her view reinforces the need to more aggressively transform education from the industrial model with which public schools were first developed to a model rooted in the new information economy (see posts on this subject here and here).