“Cybrarians”—More than Librarians
The role of the librarian is changing as the 21st Century brings about more technology into schools and workplaces where librarians may work—and this includes municipal libraries. More and more industries and businesses find the value of having librarians they can turn to when conducting research. Industrial and business librarians often use the same degree, or a close approximation to the same degree that librarians have had for 100 years or more, but how librarians have gone about their jobs has certainly changed.
Librarians as Cyber-Space Experts
The implication seems to be that the traditional librarian’s role has evolved into the role of a cyber-space expert, and in many cases that is true. Perhaps in the past when a researcher—whether pursuing an advanced degree or doing research for a job or a project at work—might ask the librarian for help. Now anyone needing to conduct research may need specific assistance from others in that field.
Librarians as Research Assistants
The librarian might be able to direct the researcher to different professional periodicals, journals, or, more recently, websites that could help them find the necessary information. Examples of this can be found in people who are required to write research papers but who never travel to a physical library—now all of the research they want to do can be accomplished using their computers.
However, librarians still have roles to play in helping researchers accomplish their goals. Often, research involves more complicated topics than the imagined Google search will require. Need to find out who shot Alexander Hamilton? A Google search will probably do the trick without bothering a librarian. Need to find a peer-reviewed article about genetic markers involved in discovering a vaccine for Ebola? Perhaps a cybrarian is exactly what the researcher needs.
Cybrarians in Business and Leadership
As we move closer to the end of the first fifth of the 21st Century, researchers find that although they may need the information located in a book, unlike doing research even 20 years ago, they no longer need a physical copy of said book. Often the book can be found online—and a professional research librarian can make finding said book possible. And a good cybrarian can help find 25 other sources that discuss the importance of these genetic markers, and the research that has led to the current point in finding the vaccine for Ebola.
The person doing the research may understand more about genetic markers, but a cybrarian can help find research and sources necessary to help compile and move that research forward. At USC, a Master of Management in Library and Information Science offers students many advantages in combining library science skills with business—and as with any USC degree—leadership skills and training also.
Students who enter the online MMLIS program learn many of the traditional principles of being a librarian, but also database management and information technologies that help turn the desire to become a librarian into a viable option in today’s business climate.