WSJ – “Is your job creative enough to resist robot automation?”

I came across this article that was published two days ago (Apr. 27th, 2015) on the Wall Street Journal blog by Amir Mizroch, which distinguishes the few top jobs and few least likely jobs that could be taken over by automation or robots.

The only reason I’m even remotely bringing this up is because there is a section that brings up librarians. Not in detail, but I figured a certain rebuttal was necessary.

Jobs that are highly susceptible to computerization, according to the report:  office administrators, call-center staff, librarians, cattle and crop farmers, loggers, miners, car salesmen and hotel staff.

Here’s my problem with the idea that librarians could be replaced with robots:

It’s not human

Librarians are more than just a “check-in-check-out” process, we are book advisers, and sounding boards, and teachers, and so much more! By bringing in robots to do our job takes away the personality of a library; the reason why a person might spend hours hanging out doing research, homework, or just general reading.

Regardless of how futuristic a robot might seem, I believe people would not be willing to let go of their positions without a fight.

After working for nearly 2 years in a school library, I can certainly say that if my position was to be filled by a robot, circulation stats would decrease. So would visitation stats. Upon seeing a robot, students would certainly feel more like their forced into an institution (which some already claim they are) rather than a place where they are supposed to be encouraged to play, learn, and grow. Not all my kids come to see me to check-out books or find out if they can put a copy on hold. But some come to me for my “sage” wisdom, or to show me something they realized in class, or for a chat about life problems. Robots could never do that – it’d be like a very terrible version of Baymax.

Source: Tumblr

Every librarian has great memories they’ve acquired while working whether it’s a school, academic, public, or private library, and I’m sure some of those people who see these men and women would have fond memories of their time spent. Those things would be drastically altered if a robot was put in place. Although computers are great, they can never replace the social aspect of a human librarian.

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About Black ' n Write Reviewer

I'm a junior high librarian finding her way into the lives of her students through the art of literature.
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2 Responses to WSJ – “Is your job creative enough to resist robot automation?”

  1. This is such an interesting post! I agree that robots shouldn’t ever replace librarians. I had the best middle school librarian and it’s hard to imagine walking into a library and not being greeted by an actual person.

    • Thanks for your reply. You’re right, the concept of robots doing a librarians job is quite disturbing. I’m sure the experience would actually affect negatively any patron who walks through the doors.
      ~ Krys

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