Libraries: the Future Yugo?

Reading this on Michael Stephens’ Tame The Web: Libraries and Technology blog:

Lazereow Lecture: Does Print Still Matter?

Dominican University Graduate School of Library and Information Science Presents The 2007 ISI® Samuel Lazerow Memorial Lecture Program, Does Print Still Matter? By Brian Kenney, editor-in-chief of School Library Journal

Thursday, April 19th, 2007 at 6:00 p.m. Dominican University 7900 West Division Fine Arts Building Eloise Martin Recital Hall Reception immediately following

Major media companies—some blatantly, others more subversively—are attempting to shift their print products entirely online. Virtual communities (such as MySpace® and Second Life®) have emerged as major social networks. Visual content (found in Flickr™ and YouTube™) is accessible in new ways, serving as both rich databases and as means for communication. This lecture will consider how print—and especially books—fit into this rapidly changing information ecology, with special attention to the lives of young people.

As editor-in-chief of School Library Journal, Brian Kenney believes he has the best job in the world in that he spends most of his time reading, writing, and talking about books, technology, kids, and learning. And he gets to meet some of the most fascinating people in the country: librarians…

Reminded me of this quote:

From Matthew Battles, Library: An Unquiet History (New York: Norton & Co., 2003):

What we face is not the loss of books but the loss of a world. As in Alexandria after Aristotle’s time, or the universities and monasteries of the early Renaissance, or the cluttered-up research libraries of the nineteenth century, the Word shifts again in its modes, tending more and more to dwell in pixels and bit instead of paper and ink. It seems to disappear thereby, as it must have for the ancient Peripatetics, who considered writing a spectral shibboleth of living speech; or the princely collectors of manuscripts in the Renaissance, who saw the newly recovered world of antiquity endangered by the brute force of the press; or the lovers of handmade books in the early nineteenth century, to whom the penny dreadful represented the final dilution of the power of literature. And yet, the very fact that the library has endured these cycles seems to offer hope. In its custody of books and the words they contain, the library has confronted and tamed technology, the forces of change, and the power of princes time and time again.

So what do you think? Is there indeed more at stake than just the loss of librarian job security? What about cultural preservation? Will research skills even be necessary in ten years? What impact will the loss of traditional libraries have on the intellectual development of our kids? our students? our faculty? our churches?

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