Data Librarians and Digital Humanism

Like many library students of late, I am consistently confronted with career neologisms for the information profession. Ex-journalists, publishers, and computer coders are no longer editors, designers, or technologists  but “Information Architects,” “Content Strategists,” and “New Media Consultants.” A former rare book librarian and acquaintance recently told me that she’s shifted her career trajectory toward “competitive intelligence,” which while engaging and apparently lucrative, reads as an effective negation of the librarian stereotype,  tantamount to shifting from a non-confrontational cataloguer to an athletic government operative.

A recent blog post on Hack Library School has in part inspired my own inquiry into these “new librarianships” for the digital world:

“…before we rush to think about which digital technologies to embrace: how do computers and internet communications transformt the way we think and connect, and is there  way that we can forward non-digital technologies to complement digital thought and communication?…Beyond simply thinking about information -seeking behaviors, though, it is worth considering the psychological aspects of our increasingly digitized and virtualized lives.” (pylduck, “The Case for Non-Digital Technologies”).

Comparatively, it might be valuable to consider the quality of our new semantics namesakes, how they contribute to clarity or rather obscure our actual professional competencies, and if the latter, it might be further valuable to redefine our professional standards to a set of layman’s terms for the digital world. Perhaps that is the aim of this new “Digital Humanism”: to create clarity by fusing an understanding of human psychology, philosophy, and semantic substance with our technophilic environs and media-saturated datascapes (those artists-formerly-known-as-libraries)

My own efforts to build competency on digital and analog archiving initiatives is freighted with a lexicon of impressive terminology. As part of SLA, I am coordinating a panel for our annual Skill Share Fair conference (March 23rd, to be hosted at Pratt Institute), entitled informally “dealing with data” and more officially, if nebulously, “Digital Humanism.” For now, I am ever-intrigued by my own ongoing education in this new librarianship, and eager to share my own negotiations of the profession’s deferral to digital.

For further updates on the Digital Humanities Talk: see the SLA@Pratt Website.

Or visit CUNY’s more developed online Digital Humanism Initiative:

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