Daily Archives: January 5, 2011

Reports on “The Death of the Library”

It recently struck me after reading a couple of other Bloggers and articles that maybe I’m not alone in bewilderment over why there is no discussion of 21st Century Library issues, or action toward saving libraries in the face of nearly overwhelming 21st Century challenges. Actually, I’m not alone, but it does seem that others are buried in places that are hard to find. So, here are some other voices that are calling for dialog and action to save our libraries.

Academic Library Autopsy Report, 2050 by Brian T. Sullivan, The Chronicle of Higher Education, January 2, 2011

Library Renewal!, Library Renewal Blog, December 30, 2010

2010 Summary: libraries are still screwed by Eric Hellman, December 31, 2010 (be sure to listen to the videos)

Death of the Library. You think? The Animated Librarian Blog, December 2, 2010

Then as I continued searching for like-minded writers, I found that most of the questions about whether the library was becoming obsolete are from over 2-3 years ago. “Did I miss out on the conversation?” was my natural reaction. But it appears to me the conversation was short lived and all too retrospective, rather than in-depth and progressive, and certainly not even close to being predictive.

Will Sherman was one cited source who wrote 33 Reasons Why Libraries and Librarians are Still Extremely Important. As near as can be determined it appears to have been written in 2007, during that 2-3 year period of cursory conversation about digitization, information providers and search sources, using 2006 and 2007 references.

IMHO, that article is typical of the lack of understanding today, since people are still citing it, that circumstances have changed significantly enough since then that the conversation about whether libraries are still relevant needs to continue. My Post A “Perfect Storm” Is Battering Libraries from December 21, outlines many of those factors that are making libraries VERY vulnerable to extinction.

• In 2007, the 21st Century Skills movement was not getting the attention of the majority of the librarian profession, but was very much limited to school and academic librarians. Today it is getting exposure to all, and it is improving the information literacy skills of Digital Native library customers.
• In 2007, technology like IBM’s super “question answering” computer was not known among librarians. Today it is, and will have significant impact on the reference sector of the profession.
• In 2007, most of the mobile communications technologies now available were not available to the general public. Today the smart phone and iPad are revolutionizing the way people access information.
• In 2007, the severe economic recession had not happened. Today it is impacting libraries across the nation, and raising the issue of the relevance of the public library.
• In 2007, library education programs were only slightly “behind” where the curriculum needed to be to produce librarians capable of leading their library into the 21st Century. Today they are WAY BEHIND, because their core curricula still have not changed to reflect 21st Century librarianship issues that new librarians face TODAY.

Technology and society are evolving exponentially, and the librarian profession is not even evolving. Bottom line is still that the profession as a whole is lagging behind where it needs to be in recognizing and addressing 21st Century Library issues in order to survive!


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