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From the Chair: Spinning Room
My first library job was in a basement room where documents related to economic development and the environment had been stacked over many years. As a university research assistant I had to make sense of it all, a task that made me think of the miller’s daughter in “Rumpelstiltskin,” locked in a room where she had to spin straw into gold. When I became a librarian, I learned that people came to us in search of the straw they needed to spin into their own personal gold. Information was a scarce commodity and the library was where you went to get it. Schools, corporations, hospitals, governments colleges and universities all supported libraries where their constituents could go find out what they needed to know with the aid of librarians who selected and organized the information and interfaced among seekers and information they sought. What has changed?
Straw is everywhere! Just a click away . . . and it’s ever more difficult to tell it from gold. Information glitters on screens instead of piling up in dark bookrooms. Accurate, reliable information appropriate to the question at hand, however, can be as hard to find as it was when information was scarce, if not harder. We still need librarians to separate the straw from the chaff.
But many institutions are forgetting that. Our schools, hospitals, and even universities are becoming library-poor. Are they not thereby choosing to try to make their jewelry out of straw, skipping the step of spinning it into gold? In Rhode Island the situation has grown critical in secondary schools and in hospitals. Please join with COLA to speak out about the continued need for libraries and librarians in the fashioning of a bright shiny golden future.
Howard Boksenbaum, Chair