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New breed of tech-savvy librarians navigate a 'minefield' of change - Metro US

New breed of tech-savvy librarians navigate a ‘minefield’ of change

Information is power and helping students find information can be the most empowering act of all.

Shawna Sadler, 33, is a Technology Officer at the University of Calgary who heads the school’s upcoming Taylor Family Digital Library. Sadler originally worked as an information architect in the web industry in the late 1990’s, but got trained as a librarian after working at UCal as a support staffer in the school’s library system. She shatters the old stereotypes of the bookworm librarian and exemplifies the new paradigm of the tech-savvy, digitally-conscious information manager, digitizing more books than she catalogues and acting as a guide along the information highway rather than a gatekeeper.

“I’m interested in how technology improves the lives of people and the society they live in. You enable people to improve themselves. It’s exciting, it’s fun and it’s hard, but at the end of the day you’ve helped people,” Sadler said.

When some students arrive on campus thinking research begins and ends with Googling something, Sadler takes pride in revealing how an immense wealth of information can be accessed with a variety of methods online and offline.

She says copyright issues still prove some of the biggest challenges in her job because changing laws around information and changing attitudes to acquiring it are often at odds with each other.

“Open, scholarly work is becoming more prominent and our job is to help students find information in all ways possible. Disseminating that information and getting it into the hands of our students is a challenge, it’s still a bit of a minefield,” Sadler said.

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