Learning with a Librarian

On Monday 22 September 2014, I sat down with Boise State University’s own Memo Cordova, associate professor, librarian, and library liaison to the Anthropology, Bilingual Education, and World Languages departments at Albertsons Library on campus.

Memo graduated from Boise State in 1991 with a BA in Illustration and Graphic Design and worked ten years at the Boise Public Library and Boise Art Museum before getting his Masters in Library Sciences from Seattle. From there he worked at the Nampa Public Library for a year and then began working for Albertsons Library again in 2005. Since then he has published many articles and contributions to books which focus on the connection between people, technology, and information. This is mainly what our interview focused on.

Going into the interview, I thought I wanted to talk about the future of the book and libraries and if he believed the book (and thus the library) was at an end. But what I got was a schooling on the fundamentals of books and, especially, libraries and a new vision of what our world might look like in years to come.

In 2005 Memo began writing about technology and libraries and how they are interconnected. He said to me, “Books are the simplest way to convey information” and that for hundreds of years they have been the most convenient way to spread knowledge and convey information. Beginning with clay tablets and stone markings until early versions of paper was widely used which then lead to letters, documents, and paperbacks and we recorded what we knew-our thought, dreams, questions, answers- into them and spread them around. Then someone came up with the smart idea to save many of these thoughts and ideas into one place where people could access them and gain the information they wanted: the library. However, in came the technological age and everything was digitized. We got computers, recording devices, tablets, smartphones, and most importantly, the Internet. This made knowledge even more accessible. People got crazy; it was socially acceptable to put out for the whole world to see what you ate for breakfast and snap pics of the neighbor’s dog and tell everyone just what a terrible, horrible day you’ve had. And the information got muddled. There is too much information, for too little time and space. And so there are books, which are like little hand-held sized condensed versions of the information you need from the internet.

But is that all a library is? A bunch of floors filled with a bunch of shelves filled with a bunch of books? If so, the end of the library is quite plausible. Although many of my own generation still enjoy the feel and smell of an old dusty book, this will not be so in the many generations to come after us. So, is this really the end of the library?

The answer is: of course not!

As we broached the subject, Memo told me that “libraries are not just books.” He said that libraries are constantly adapting themselves to fit in the world society has made or them. With the introduction of the Internet, yes, there comes the onslaught of information when accessing the web, but most librarians have become proficient at data mining or, in the case of Boise State’s librarians, guide students to research topics and databases they might never have found on their own. Also, many libraries have been implementing new technology as demand increases. This includes not just laptops and tablets, although this form of technology has vastly increased the mobility and accessibility of information, but also e-books and creating blogs and pod-casts and using other forms of social media to reach out to the public. They do this because it is what is in demand, it’s what the public wants to see: the information they want from a place that is not only familiar but also convenient and in a convenient and modern format.

Basically what Memo left me with was, “As long as people need access to information, there will always be libraries.” I will admit that before I had interviewed Memo Cordova, I had bought into the hype that books and libraries are practically extinct and that future societies will have no place for them. But after talking with him I find that I am now excited to see the future of libraries and where they will go from here!

Thank you, Memo, for everything you taught me in our session. You have given me many things to think about for not only the future of knowledge but for my own future as well.


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