My Dear Friends of NILDE
Attending a library conference is like going to a party with friends whom you have not met for a long time. At the party, we drink, sing and dance but more importantly we talk each other. During the party, we share our stories which will make us understand better ourselves and learn from each other. From this experience we can see that we are not alone in dealing with certain challenges and we comfort ourselves while sharing our frustrations.
The 2015 IFLA World Library Information Congress in Cape Town, South Africa gave me the very experiences I have expected, plus a pleasure of meeting with colleagues from Italia. Although I am not an Italian but as one who can speak Italian, I attended the Italian Caucus and met several colleagues from Italia.
E’ una cosa contraddizionale che dicevo di poter parlare l’Italiano ma scrivo questo pezzo in Inglese. Ma spero i colleghi Italiani siano generosi di ciudere un occhio sulla mia ironia. Come voi dite, “Tra il dire and il fare c’è di mezzo il mare.”
Talking with Italian colleagues, I have felt again that we are the same species who struggle to establish our role in a society where more and more people see the library as an institution with a secondary importance which is going to disappear in the near future as Internet and online information grow every second.
They say, “All books are online and with E-Books everywhere, why we need library?” Yet, they do not know or do not want to acknowledge some obvious facts; the fact that there are more print books are published every year. They talk about the E-Books as the best thing happens in human history but they do not think that E-Books are not free and still no one knows how to preserve those E-Books as we, librarians, preserved the ancient manuscripts for centuries.
While people outside the library claim that everything is online and everything online is free, we librarians know better. We know that not everything is online and not all those online are free either. When people talk about the convenience of E-book and opportunities of other digital media, we, the information professionals, know exactly what dangers and problems those new media can bring to our society; Threats to the Privacy, Digital Divide, Digital Dark Age, and Information Overload just to name few.
Sometimes we feel, we are the only ones who talk about those issues, meanwhile less and less people recognize the important roles we play for the entire society. It makes me sad but at the same time it gives me the power to continue our works with more vigor because the ignorance of public on the library reveals clearly why the library is an essential institution and librarians are the crucial member of the society who are the sole keepers of human knowledge and information.
We librarians were thought the people who make others quiet when they became too loud in the library so obviously we were assumed also as quite and sometimes timid people but, again, we know well who we are and how important our tasks are. So I believe this is the time we should be loud to talk about ourselves and the institutions in which we devote our time and efforts. We need to educate our public on the importance of the libraries while doing our daily duties which are not recognized enough. It is almost like those zealous revolutionaries’ mission to overthrow the brutal dictatorship, the dominance of ignorance. Librarians’ fight for the library is not for our job security but it is for our patrons and the society we serve. We know more than anyone else that information is key to the success.
When this piece will appear on NILDE blog, I will be heading to attend another party, this time in Istanbul, Turkey and I will be meeting my dearest friends of NILDE, too. We will again talk about our problems and successes and we will lament and smile about them. The road we are following seems long and lonely but we are walking together and we SHARE our experiences and resources.