Which leads us to the next question: What will librarians be doing in this new environment?
In some ways, there mightn’t be much change. Librarians will still be milling about, helping those who need help, doing things that librarians in libraries typically do (i.e., sit in meetings, form committees to do stuff). But there won’t be as many of them. Not that there’ll be fewer librarians overall – just fewer in the library. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if librarians begin to live outside the library. In departmental offices. In more accessible locations, where partnerships and collaborations can more conveniently happen. I hold weekly office hours in one of my liaison departments and I’ve experienced the advantages of proximity firsthand. As more and more students attend university remotely, the less and less meaningful the centralized and well-defined librarian role becomes. Perhaps we’ll maintain a floating existence with amorphous responsibilities, moving from information need to information need, from the physicals to the digitals, without being tied to a specific library. Perhaps we’re already doing this.
There’s been much talk of the profession’s future over the years (and over the last few days), and the only thing that’s certain is that librarians will be doing completely different things in completely different environments. And, that's the extent of my oracular abilities.
Image: Close to Royalty - From last summer on The Mall.