What does a library look like?

What does a library look like; What services does a library provide? In recent years, libraries have made dramatic changes due to rapid advancements in technology. In order to continue to serve the community, libraries must be aware of both the opportunities and the challenges that come with evolving information technologies.

If the true goal of librarianship is equal access to information, than the evolution of information technology provides librarians with and even wider audience – a broader range of patrons and a greater breadth of materials, equipping librarians with the means of serving its patrons. Information technology allows librarians to serve their communities outside the library walls – meeting patrons where they live, work, and play. New technologies allow librarians to access, share and communicate. But, with these opportunities come challenges.

In the article “Do Libraries Still Matter?” Stanford’s head librarian Michael A. Keller predicts that in the near future nearly all of the world’s information will be digitally available, forcing us to reevaluate the role and responsibilities of libraries and librarians. Increasingly ubiquitous access to free, digital information begs the question – are libraries still necessary. According to Sherman, “libraries – and librarians – are irreplaceable.” Among many reasons, Sherman notes that the internet isn’t, in fact, free. The cost of internet access, of information technology, of access to information is still prohibitive.

In many cases, digital technology leaves libraries and patrons vulnerable. Libraries must consider how best to protect privacy of patrons. Access to many resources, often involves a trade off of personal data. Librarians must consider the implications of this trade – educating and protecting users.  Librarians must be vigilant advocates for the privacy of patrons – especially with the increase in availabilities of mobile technologies (Cyrus & Baggett, 2012).

While, certainly, evolving technology brings challenges, the value of the opportunities make meeting these challenges both necessary and worthwhile. Libraries will evolve to meet the needs of their communities – reflecting the cultural and technological changes of the times.

 

References

Akst, D. (2005). Do libraries still matter? Carnegie Reporter, 3(2), 22-29.

Cyrus, J., & Baggett, M. (2012). Mobile technology: Implications for privacy and librarianship. The Reference Librarian, 53(3), 284. doi:10.1080/02763877.2012.678765

Sherman, W. (2007). 33 reasons why libraries and librarians are still extremely important. Information Outlook, 11(6), 66-78.

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