Our Profession’s Strategies to Serve the Society in Time of Crisis

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Rahmatollah Fattahi [LIS proff. at Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Iran]  

The social status and prestige of each profession is deeply rooted in extent to which it would influence the society. This is a historical fact. The validity of both professions and those who are interested and involved with them depends on this important professional aspect. There are some professions who have succeeded to complete their historical mission through their services influencing the society’s development processes and also meeting both personal and social needs. It would be more important to serve the society in times when people suffer from serious and disastrous problems.

Today, the human society across the world, including Iran, suffers from an enormous problem whose past and future is unknown. Before prevalence of coronavirus disease, the most obvious manifestations of human disasters used to happen through devastating wars and annihilating natural disasters such as volcanoes, floods, typhoons etc. Today the human society, beyond its geographical, lingual, cultural, religious, and even economic borders, is wrestling with a fatal disease with an unknown future. Only a while ago, i.e. about three months ago, nobody would be able even to imagine such a deadly condition for themselves or others. There was nobody who was able to imagine that there would be a day when they or their dearest or closest ones will be sick with covid-19, will be a day when everybody have to close their businesses or even lose them all. Nobody was able even to think that there would be day when all organizations, including schools, universities, libraries and all events such as national/international exhibitions and Olympic Games will be closed.

Today, even the personal contacts and travels have been restricted, something nobody would think about it just two months ago. Huge negative consequences across the world are expected. Extensive economic recession in all countries, a sharp drop in oil price, tourism industry shutdown are just some consequences of this horrible disaster.

All of these disasters occurred within the past two months in the human society, from poor and developing countries to the developed, rich ones. Almost all countries are facing consequences which are initially destructive, although so many creativities have been manifested in the same period of time, as today we see that the human society is rethinking about its intellectual foundations and philosophical and religious beliefs. Most of individuals are no longer the same people who used to live normally anymore. Most of them are worried about the future of themselves and their families. The anxiety has affected negatively their thoughts and behavior. Certain problems such as stress, distress, etc. are widely growing. Other problems such as family disputes, divorces, drug abuse and addictions, etc. are amongst the most prevalent consequences in the current and next years. In such condition, there are certain professions which can prove their responsibilities and profitableness and influence and realize their historical mission.

The Librarianship and Information Science profession is among the professions which has a known and important mission throughout the history: serving people to provide them with information and knowledge in order to achieve welfare and happiness. Relying on its historical experience, it is the time this profession can help the human society at the global level. It is obvious that it won’t be successful with its current scattered and incoherent situation.

Today is the time for compiling a collection of local, national and international strategies. Experiences of all libraries and librarians in serving the society in crisis would be helpful in setting down such strategies. Here in this article, I will refer to a number of frameworks and proposed strategies and their executive imperatives upon fighting against the covid-19 and its destructive consequences:

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