It has been some time since my last blog, but happily there is Twitter to fill in the gaps. In the interim, the Bibliothekartag has taken place in Germany and the ALA Annual Conference has begun in New Orleans. The atmosphere in the Big Easy will perhaps prove to be a help in getting back into the routine of blogging.
For a time, one got the impression -- from reading blogs and attending conferences -- that libraries (and librarians) were slowly but successfully working their way through the period of uncertainty that was triggered by the Internet, eBooks and the social media. Libraries found new areas of activity, becoming a gathering place for learning communities, for public Internet access, for acquiring information literacy, etc. Nevertheless, the question of the future of libraries remains the most hotly debated topic librarians engage in. At the "Unconference" held on the first day of the ALA Conference, a survey on relevant themes quickly revealed this to be precisely what librarians wanted to talk about. How can one get students into the library? Given shrinking budgets, how can one offer an ever-increasing number of new titles? How, under these conditions, does one deal with the not exactly library-friendly service spectrum of eBooks? How do we remain relevant? What was made clear in all of this, as a matter of course (and with a certain regret), was that the time in which every library was (also) viewed as a repository of information is past. eMedia, databanks and Internet sources, which increasingly comprise the information holdings of libraries, are no longer, as it is generally known, in the permanent possession of libraries, but merely are "leased".
The demands of archiving and maintenance no longer pertain. I find it amazing that this is not even being considered a problem by my American colleagues. Perhaps it is more of a European viewpoint that, in exploring a theme, one also takes a historical perspective? Anyone looking at the history of library science a century from now undoubtedly would gain a very different view of the development of the discipline if s/he could access regularly published contemporary lexicon entries rather than merely depend on a historical account offered by Wikipedia.
Monday, 27. June 2011
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