I was initially going to rant about toaster ovens today (long story) but instead a job advert has prompted a long running thought I’ve had about eServices Librarians. Having been one for a few years I can see the need of the position in libraries but also how it is possibly damaging our profession. Appointing a dedicated person to look after ‘everything digital’ seems like a good idea, why wouldn’t you want someone in charge of a valuable resource? The approach I took to eServices was to run it like a digital branch, another library existing in the digital sphere, catering to a separate community existing within the physical library’s community. The problem with this was I was the only person in this digital library. Using social media I did all the queries, promotion, referencing and interaction/community building. Collection development was done by sourcing new resources, buying ebooks (that’s another rant all together), and promoting open access databases.
While I managed quite well with all this role entailed, I was unique. There was no redundancy, no backup. Staff would often call me to assist with clients using these resources, and were unaware or unable to bridge the divide between the physical library and digital one (despite all my best efforts to encourage staff to engage).
The question is, are eServices Librarians helping or hindering libraries? In an ideal world all our staff would be involved with eServices and the divide between the physical and digital branches minimal. What should these digital branch managers be spending their time on instead? Training other staff for one would help (if they’re willing and able to learn that is), as would injecting digital aspects into other roles. Recording storytime sessions, creating digital surveys for author talks, encouraging reference staff to use digital databases, all good examples of integrating the digital and the physical. Ideally in the future we won’t need a separate role but integrated in all our roles, a digital Jiminy Cricket whispering in our ears.