Futures for the librarianship

August 13, 2020

Ideas about the futures of librarianship, part of the class Introduction to the information from the Escuela Interamericana de Bibliotecología (Medellín, Colombia) were I was invited by professor Orlanda Jaramillo.

The invitation

Professor Orlanda Jaramillo invited me to a webinar on July 29th, 2020. It was hosted by Daniel Moncada, and also Paola Ramírez, Isabel Bernal, Nora Quiroz and Carlos Andrés Hoyos were there. To this class, Introduction to the information attended students from the first year of Librarianship. This bachelor is offered by the Universidad de Antioquia.

The questions to start a debate aimed to the profile needed by librarians in our society, the skills we need to develop and how do we imagine the future of librarianship. This conversation, a webinar during the COVID-19 pandemic, was very friendly and intimate, even if we were talking from Brasil, Colombia and Europe, like friends in the same space.

Some data

I used to work with Daniel at the National Library of Colombia, he was in charge of the heritage policy tackled by the Selection and Acquisition team, lead by Myriam Marín, this team included the digital legal deposit, my responsability back then I met Paola Ramírez in a youtube video, talking about the future of libraries. Her speech was inspiring for me and her perspective from philosophy towards technology was very interesting.

I made a presentation with some data to support my point, but I hadn't time to show it. I want to use this text to clarify and go deeper on those slides.

Internet conectivity in 2019

Because of the pandemic we jumped in, as we can, to a digital life. It seems that everything happens on Internet, but don't forget almost half of the world population has no access to Internet, 53,6% human beings can not access to the net, according this graph by the International Telecommunications Union - ITU.

Percentage of population without Internet in 2019, data by ITU

Conectivity by gender in 2019

Looking the same report you can find the proportion of male and female internet users, where women have less opportunities of access.

Proportion of female and male Internet users in 2019, data by ITU

Topics of interest in Colombia

I downloaded the dataset from the IFLA Ideas Store and made this data visualization to see the words mentioned from Colombia, about the future of libraries and librarians. In Colombia we were interested in advocacy, digital environments, communities, research, heritage and open culture.

Nube de palabras de los temas presentados en el Almacén de Ideas de IFLA por Colombia

Other countries with the same interests of Colombia

Based on the IFLA Ideas Store I found that Colombian librarians can explore other countries working on the same topics, like Canada, Germany, United States, Puerto Rico, Australia, Poland, Malawi, Tunisia, Bolivia, Mexico, Ukraine, Brazil, Senegal and Jamaica among others.

Nube de palabras de los países con los mismos temas presentados en el Almacén de Ideas de IFLA por Colombia

My ideas

I mentioned that my professional goal comes from Silvia Castrillón's The right to read and write. This book influenced me as professor Leonardo Machett's did as well. My professional goal is the development of a critic citizenship.

My professional goal is the development of a critic citizenship

About the skills needed for a librarian I think are related to associations and enhancement of local communities. I mentioned the idea of multiple futures based on Rafael Ramírez's research and how we can imagine multiple futures from our present to try to reach them to our daily life.

Someone mentioned "think about how you want to be in the future", but that makes me feel a little bit concerned, because your professional achievement always is going to be in the future, a future that maybe never becomes true. I better propose to think from the present. I said "Don't think you will be a professional, think that you already are one" and is better work with this in mind. I think the future can be a trap, because can stay always in the future.

I imagine futures (yes, in plural) where we strengthen the public domain and the commonwealth. That's why I invited them to groups as ASEIBI, the library association for Universidad de Antioquia alumni or Ascolbi, the Colombian national Library association.

A deeper conversation about possible futures in librarianship was made by my friend Andrés Reinoso for IFLA New Professional Special interest Group.

I think now that we have to deal with COVID-19 the sense of community needs to find new ways to be performed, even more when the digital seems to be a safe way to be in touch but not everyone has access to it.

How do we do to not leave anyone behind in our communities?