Well, it happened. Despite the best prognosis from the movie Desk Set (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0050307/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1) starring Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn, based on the play by William Marchant, the machines have taken over the role once played by human beings. We have witnessed the demise of bookstores, record stores, and video stores. Now we see that librarians, once considered the rock bed of education, knowledge and the collective knowledge of human wisdom, replaced by Google and Wikipedia. When is the last time anyone of you thought to ask a reference librarian a question? Why bother? Just plug your question into Google. It will invariably lead to a link to Wikipedia.
When I first became a librarian, my hands were full of questions. I would spend untold hours researching questions, checking my sources, and providing my client with what I considered the best possible answer to their question. As time went by, I would sit at that reference desk, and after just a few years, I found myself telling people, “The bathroom is over there.” “The photocopy machines are over there.” I became a human pointer to questions that a well-trained monkey could answer.
We librarians are clever people. At the medical school where I once worked, we devised a questionnaire asking incoming students what their sources of information were. I can remember the chill that ran down my spine the first time I saw “Wikipedia” with a smiley face beside it. I knew then at that very moment that I had become irrelevant. Sadly, this irrelevancy is based on a misconception that Google and Wikipedia are infallible. I’ve garnered information from Google and Wikipedia that is false, slanted, irrelevant and just plain wrong. Nothing can replace the human element that involves the collation of information!
Yes, based on the values of today’s society, librarians are irrelevant, much to the detriment of humanity. I see all these people walking about with their faces poked into their phones or tablets, ignoring the world around them. I see parents with their own children, obsessed with their little devices, ignoring the needs of their own flesh and blood. How this saddens me. Poor children to grow up in such a world! On the other hand, I am the eternal pessimist. I believe that the human race is on a course of extinction within one or two generations. Global warming/climate change, emergent diseases, overpopulation, and dwindling resources all make the prospect for the survival of the humanity quite slim. I’m just glad that I have no progeny.
So consider this the last battle cry of librarians to the rest of you stupid, self-absorbed, lazy and most, importantly, UNGRATEFUL, people. You are going to get what you deserve; that is, a world crowded with ignorance, scarcity, brutality, and loss. What’s most sad to me is that most of you do not even know what you have already lost.