Congrats to Amanda Etches-Johnson who was recently named one of Library Journal's 2007 Movers & Shakers. Amanda taught the “Social Software” course at FIMS in Fall 2006 and everything I heard about this class sounded like it was amazing. I don't know many of the names on the list of past winners but wonder if this is the first time somebody with a FIMS connection has won?
Looking at the list of people named this year, there is a heavy technology-connection evident in why many of the people listed were chosen. This reminds me of something I was pondering the other day. We talk a lot about the “digital divide” in library school but usually in reference to our patrons – those who know/use technology and those who don't. To generalize, rich v. poor, urban v. rural, young v. old.
But I sometimes wonder if there is a digital divide within the field of librarianship that fits those same criteria – those who are comfortable with technology and those who aren't. I'm not just referring to the 29 and a 1/2 years of service librarian who refuses to use the new version of MS-Word because “I'm retiring in six months” or the branch manager who doesn't want to know about RSS because “that's a job for the systems guy.”
There are many library students and recent grads who don't like technology or don't feel comfortable with it either. So, is this even an issue? Should it be? If it is, what should we do to help reduce the “internal digital divide”? Conference sessions are a good idea but if you have no interest in “Top Tech Trends”, are you going to be attend? Same with magazine and journal articles – will you read an article about Facebook if you dismiss it as “kid's stuff”?
Personally, I think the best solution is to actually encourage people to use the tools although I'm not sure how best to do that (I suspect word of mouth directly and via things like blog posts is a good way!) Even if someone doesn't keep it up, if they start a blog, they'll know how easy it is if called upon to do so in their workplace. If a shy librarian joins Facebook, they gain a way to socialize with other librarians that might be more comfortable than talking one-on-one after class or in a group setting. If someone buys a new digital camera and realises that putting their photos on Flickr means that distant family and friends can easily follow the events and happenings of their life, maybe they'll take the next step and think “Hmm, this camera makes digital movies too. Maybe I should put up a video of my little angel singing “Old MacDonald” on YouTube. (It's important to note that most of these sites allow you control the privacy settings – the default is “public” but it's easy to specify that only people you approve can see your content.