I worry that one day, I am going to be faced with a situation where a library where I work is going to be given that horrifying ultimatum: change or die! We all like to talk about how we’re good at handling change in the abstract, but what if the change amounts to some specific things which seem very negative. For example, what if the change means lose your physical collection and half of your staff, that so there is no more physical library, but an online and telephone based research service?
I plan to work in this profession for another 30 or 40 years. I expect that during this time, it’s going to change a lot, so that the librarian of the future may be unrecognizable from the librarian of today. If that’s true, we must be braced to accept the unthinkable.
I’ve worked with librarians who when confronted with "change or die", still refuse to change - because they have integrity and because they’re planning on retiring in a few years. I don’t want to be like that, I can’t - or I may as well start planning my second career already. I’ve worked in a library that’s been shut down, and once it’s closed, it’s gone and there is no undo button to bring it back easily. But a compromised library that survives may return to its original mission when the environment is more favourable. Or if the library changes and survives, it could be that it represents the new library values in the future.
I have no idea how things will be for librarians in 30 or more years, but I think that if librarians don't get used to the idea of radical and uncomfortable change, then the question will be moot.