“This can never truly replace paid, professional library staff”
What do we think of when we think of work? Why as a society do we not value caring and sharing as much as paid work in shops, offices and factories?
In Sheffield, our definition of work seems to be too narrowly defined as a means to an end. So many people are doing mundane and boring jobs just to be able to make ends meet and there's little consideration for the intrinsic worth of particular types of unpaid work, such as caring, childcare, or work done by library staff. The rapid advances in technology and the increasing use of artificial intelligence to carry out certain tasks have the potential to allow us to have more leisure time and to be able to focus more on the things and people we choose to spend our time on, an aim which is within reach if we only try. Technology can be a wonderful addition to life and to the services that benefit us all, like libraries. Being able to go online and order books from other libraries, read blogs and engage with like-minded people over social media are all things which enrich our lives. This technology combined with the human presence of trusted, professional library staff forms a powerful form of social support which enriches lives and boosts mental health. Technology can only augment and can never truly replace paid, professional library staff. Human beings need human contact with trusted people, not just interaction with self-service and computer screens. Those running our library service would do well to remember these facts when planning the future of the service.