“We’re spending a lot of money on our technology and on more databases and more items that you don’t have to come in and use,” Bostick says. “That’s a big deal.” As the library grows into more of a living thing, accessible from long distance, it becomes even more reliant on one key ingredient: librarians. “For the past 30 years, librarianship has changed so quickly that if you stayed in the profession, you had to learn to change, and they’re doing that.”

Bostick says that today’s librarians are responsible for fully immersing themselves and becoming experts in 21st century technology. Librarians now spend time scanning literature and discussion boards to look for buzz on new tools, and when they hear of new tools or databases, they test them to see if they will be a viable option for any of the University’s libraries, Bostick says. UMKC Librarian Laura Gayle Green says her natural curiosity helps her integrate new technology into the library before she helps adjust students to upgraded resources as they become available.

As head of the Music/Media Library, located within Miller Nichols Library, Green is responsible for identifying the latest technology, instituting it into the library system and then helping students get acclimated to the newfound resources. Green says in the ever-changing field of library technology, it is vital that she and other librarians stay ahead of the curve by making sure the renovations work for the library’s staff and its patrons. “The library can offer a customized, personal experience,” Green says. “And we can help with that.”

Laura Gayle Green
Librarian Laura Gayle Green’s role continues to shift as new technology emerges. –Photo by Michael McClure

Embracing the digital world

A venture into librarian Laura Gayle Green’s office tells you everything you need to know about the library’s new age. There is no card catalogue for her. Instead, her office contains two computers, a netbook, her Blackberry and a landline. Welcome to the new library. Welcome to the new librarian.

“If the librarians are not able to make that transition easy for faculty and students, the process doesn’t work,” she says. “This is what I do now. You learn to deal with the new parts as they come at you.”

Green is accessible to students through face-to-face contact, but she also maintains a campus presence via the Internet. She uses a blog on the library’s website and the library’s Facebook account, where she offers instant research assistance and general study tips. Offering that help can be a monumental assistance to students who, through the power of the Internet, seemingly have an endless sea of resources available.

“The amount of information, the incredible content at their fingertips is wonderful,” she says. “I would have loved it when I was in grad school.” Whether working in-person or via another form of instant communication, Green maintains that her favorite part of the job is working with people and sharing that “light bulb” moment when they realize they’ve found what they need. “Even with all the technological changes,” she says, “the personal component is still there.”

All smiles
Nothing trivial about an $87,000 payday

Pages: 1 2