Founded around 300 B.C., the Great Library of Alexandria is seen as the first public library of the western world. Holding an impressive 750,000 scrolls at its peak, the library propelled the Egyptian city to a position as intellectual capital of the world.

Throughout the years, both the composition and role of libraries has changed, yet it’s hard to imagine a repository of knowledge without librarians. So, let’s take a closer look at how the position of both the repository and librarian has evolved over time.

The ancient library of Alexandria was the first large reading collection.The ancient library of Alexandria was the first large reading collection.

How libraries’ position in society has changed

In the past, libraries have played an important role in enabling access to information and knowledge for educational purposes. According to NetJournals, particularly the academic sphere of repositories has been the heart of learning environments. 

Different functions and services for both potential and existing users were serviced with a wide range of resources. This ensured scholarly information was available for research, development and knowledge advancement. 

Centuries after they were initially introduced to society, libraries remain central to scholarly communication management. They are meant to bring together academics to support personal growth, intellectual development, reading for pleasure and self-discovery. 

The way students access materials has changed.The way students access materials has changed.

As such, NetJournals summarised the functions of modern libraries as the following: 

  • Building of reading material collections – both print and electronic – that serve scholarly needs.
  • Sharing resources for external use. 
  • Offering reprographic, bibliographic and translation services for researchers. 
  • Enabling the evolution and extension of university programs. 
  • Organising and managing modernised systems that allow collections to be accessed quickly. 
  • Helping individuals maximise the resources provided by the library.

With the rise of technology, the realm of academia changed drastically, meaning that libraries had to adapt to new communication practises. This came with new challenges, including costs related to maintaining up-to-date collections and complying with copyright regulations while the use of materials changed. 

Despite these drastic shifts in the way libraries function, the need for repositories of knowledge is a constant we will continue to see in the future. What about the role of librarians though?

Being a librarian in modern times

Historically, librarians have been at the centre of repositories, something NetJournals suggests will stay the same in the coming years. 

Despite the fact that technology is changing the landscape of reading materials and how they are accessed, there still remains a need for collaboration between librarians and other members of institutions. This relationship focuses on facilitating access to and providing information about available resources that are physically retrievable. The nature of help for students in particular is set to increasingly change though, as the internet continues to grow in importance. 

Reading materials are increasingly online.Reading materials are increasingly online.

While the role of a librarian remains client-focused in terms of facilitating learning in a ever-friendly manner, the scale at which librarians operate has and will continue to expand. Building relationships with a number of different departments within an academic institution has and will continue to become more important. Particularly with the introduction of library management systems and other technological advancements, the role of librarians will increasingly morph with process automation and improvement practises. 

In line with this, individuals working in a library are more likely to become a source of knowledge in terms of technology design, as they have the most intimate understanding of user experience and requirements. They have the power to select and request reading materials that they deem most appropriate for the particular repository, which inherently qualifies them to be at the forefront of library integration to ensure improvements are made effectively. 

As the digital age shapes the way scholarly research and learning is undergone, librarians face with the challenge of keeping their institutions’ reading materials as up-to-date and as relevant as possible whilst adhering to copyright considerations. 

When it comes to helping create reading lists and compiling library resources, eReserve Plus is the ideal choice for librarians. To find out more, take a look at our website or give us a call