Looking Forward at Libraries and Librarianship
Libraries have had a long and venerable history, and are often highly regarded by users. From the first collection of clay tablets to today’s mobile devices, technology has played a key role in how libraries and librarians have been able to preserve and provide access to information for users. How users access information is changing, as is the image of library as “space.” However, even as libraries look to new technologies and services and reconfigure spaces for current and future users, some things remain constant. As noted by Okerson (2003, pp. 280-281), eight “eternal verities” exist with regard to library collections and services:
- Content is selectable
- Content is collectible
- Content is valuable and libraries retain it for the long-term
- Collections grow and provisions must be made for storing content
- Collecting can be the equivalent of long-term preservation
- Libraries and their collections are meant to endure
- Libraries exist to meet the information needs of users
- Information is global, and libraries preserve and provide access to information world-wide.
(Okerson, Ann. 2003. “Asteroids, Moore’s Law, and the Star Alliance.” Journal of Academic Librarianship 29, no. 5: 280-285.)
These “truths” must be kept in mind as libraries address challenges and opportunities facing them in today’s rapidly-changing environment. What are some of these issues? In their work Academic Librarianship (New York: Neal-Schuman, 2010)*, Camila A. Alire and G. Edward Evans surveyed a number of academic library directors who each contributed an essay on what they saw as the future for academic libraries and librarianship as a whole. A number of themes emerged from these essays, the most commonly-cited being:
- The need for radical change
- Effective adaptation of technology
- Increased role of digitization
- Library as place
- Addressing financial challenges (p. 329).
For many in the library profession, the above-cited issues are not new, but must be acknowledged and addressed as libraries continue to evolve into the future.
* This title is available at McKeldin Library, call number: Z675 U5 A427 2010.
“While some individuals are pessimistic about the future of libraries, many in the community envision future library services that incorporate new philosophies, new technologies, and new spaces to meet the needs of all users more effectively than ever before. These changes go beyond merely incorporating technological advances to include rethinking the very core of what defines a library—the sense of place, of service, and of community that has characterized the modern library for the last century.”
— Jennifer C. Hendrix, Introduction to Checking Out The Future: Perspectives from the Library Community on Information Technology and 21st- Century Libraries. Policy Brief No. 2. Chicago: ALA Office for Information Technology Policy, 2010, p. 3.
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Above the Fold
Weekly electronic newsletter from OCLC that “seeks to bring attention to items of interest from beyond our normal reading sphere,” with articles of interest on such topics as libraries, services and technology. RSS and e-mail subscriptions are available.
Checking Out The Future: Perspectives from the Library Community on Information Technology and 21st-Century Libraries (Also seen above)
Policy brief from the American Library Association’s Office for Information Technology Policy (2010).
The Googlization of Everything
Blog by Siva Vaidhyanathan – Robertson Professor in Media Studies and Chair, Department of Media Studies, University of Virginia.
Blog by Michael Zimmer, assistant professor in the School of Information Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and co-director of the Center for Information Policy Research (http://www4.uwm.edu/cipr/), discussing information ethics, privacy, new media and other issues of current interest to libraries and librarians.
Steven Bell’s Resource Center
Page maintained by Steven Bell – AUL, Temple University and Vice-President/President Elect – Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL). Includes links and background on design thinking and the user experience.
Top Technology Trends
From the Library and Information Technology Association (LITA).
UMD Libraries’ Emerging Technology Discussion Group Delicious Page
A collection of emerging technology links and resources provided by members of the UM Libraries’ community.