My employer recently sent my fellow digital librarian and me a link to post on Robin Good’s blog, Content Curation: Why is The Content Curator The Key Emerging Online Editorial Role of the Future. After reading this post, I began to contemplate what I do, and whether my new degree is necessary. I returned to school to pursue a Masters in Information and Library Science (MILS) because I anticipated that there would be a need for web content curation, although I thought of it as web or digital librarianship, and believed the education was necessary to do this job well. And, I still do.
Ultimately, content curation is pretty much what my job entails, and I could not imagine doing it competently without the additional education. But, I started thinking about other areas where content curation could be done without an MILS. If all you’re doing is scouring the web for specific content, what does the library school education give you? Well, you learn about the importance of authority, for one. And, how to determine a reputable source.
There are news sites, focused content websites, reference resource sites, news site blogs, personal blogs, social media sites, etc. I think part of what we digital/web librarians bring is the ability to organize and sort the sites and content to determine which information is of most value to the organization. It may not necessarily be the authoritative information, depending on the organization, but we are skilled to make those decisions. With the social/collaboritive aspect of the web in the 21st century, this skill is more critical than ever.
I am a big proponent of the social and collaborative aspect of the web. I delight in seeing it in action. The other day I witnessed an error in an online article that was caught and the correction posted in a comment in real time. This was on the New York Times website, although I’m sure it is not a unique occurrence. On the flip side, I read in the book Everything is Miscellaneous by David Weinberger a response by Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, to the media about an accusation of an erroneous entry in Wikipedia. Jimmy Wales said “Wikipedia contained an error. How shocking.” I chuckled at this comment. Of course, entries in Wikipedia often contain errors. They’re not written and edited by Nobel Laureates, and scholars in particular fields (well, maybe sometimes), but there are entries on just about everything you can think of, and then some. It is more often than not the go to online resource for a definition on just about anything. Should we stop there? Heck no, it should be a springboard to further research.
The first thing that comes to mind when I hear the word curator is museum curator. What is a museum curator? The first sentence in the definition on Wikipedia is “Traditionally, a curator or keeper of a cultural heritage institution (e.g. gallery, museum, or archive) is a content specialist responsible for an institution’s collections.” (Check out the resources listed for this entry!) So, as content curators, our content is information, and as librarians we’re nothing if not information specialists. As my employer aptly put it, digital librarians: content with authority!
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About Iris Finkel
|I am a librarian observing how new media is altering the flow of information in the 21st century. Occasionally, I record my observations here.|
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