It has begun. Ten years ago when I was applying to MLS programs, the professional literature and campus publications were all a-twitter with the news of an impending shortage of librarians as the Boomer generation began to retire. Enroll in an MLS program now, and find a plethora of jobs just around the corner, they all assured us.
In case you’ve been living under a rock in the interim, the Boomers never actually began to retire.
Until now. Our much-loved and respected director, Rebecca Thompson, has announced that she will be retiring at the end of the academic year. One of our full-time building supervisors, equally loved and respected, is also resigning to take advantage of some fantastic opportunities as he moves toward retirement. One of the campus deans is retiring. And I have several colleagues who are at, past, or approaching retirement age and eligibility, all with differing levels of enthusiasm, intention, and ambivalence.
Aside from regret at losing great colleagues and excitement for their new opportunites, I have two main questions as I think about all of these things. One, what information and institutional memory are we about to lose? Do we even know what we won’t know when those people leave? And, two, what will our library look like five years from now? How many faces will be different, how many directions will have shifted, and priorities changed? And how do those two questions play together?