While technological advancements have brought the world to our doorstep, an experienced analyst or researcher has the skills required to sift through it all and deliver only the information you need, without the unnecessary noise. One need look no further than Facebook and Twitter’s struggles with hate speech and “fake news” to understand the limitations of automation and the value of the human touch. Even amid rapid technological advancements, there remains an important role for information professionals.
“I think there’s a real role for information professionals to be purveyors of that and to understand that, interpret that and figure out a way to use it. I think that the fear of being replaced by it is ridiculous. I think the future is even more of an embrace of technology and leading the way with it”, says Deborah Schwarz, a former law library director and founder of Library Associates Companies (LAC).
New technology has dramatically reshaped the work of information professionals themselves – most significantly in the shift from paper to digital to online. Schwarz has seen this change sweep through her industry first-hand. Like most information professionals, she describes how computers went from being foreign objects in the office to vital tools.
“We didn’t have much interaction with them. Obviously, that’s changed and computers are an absolutely integral part – and smartphones and all the other devices that one uses. Librarians have always kind of been at the forefront on the application side of using technology and using those devices to find information,” she says, adding that the role of information professionals will continue to evolve as new technologies, such as artificial intelligence, continue to emerge and change the professional landscape.