The library in the digital age

Moss, M.S. (2008) The library in the digital age. In: Nicholas, D. and Rowlands, I. (eds.) Digital Consumers: Reshaping the Information Professions. Facet, pp. 35-68. ISBN 9781856046510

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It is time for the information professions in the United Kingdom that lag behind their peers in North America, Australasia and even sub-Saharan Africa to wake up to the realities of what might be described as the second digital revolution that is rapidly being colonized by other disciplines with theory and rhetoric that address its far-reaching implications for the way we live and do business. A great deal is written about the library in the digital age, largely from the perspective of technology that is often characterised as 'new' or 'emerging' with 'exciting' possibilities with little regard for the way knowledge production, categorisation, management, distribution and consumption are being transformed. Such introspective hyperbole, which often gives the impression of clutching at straws, ignores previous information revolutions, such as the development of printing in fifteenth century Europe, and, perhaps more importantly, the long pre-occupation with information and its adjuncts in European thought, stretching back to Classical times. This chapter explores the relationship between this considerable body of knowledge and information provision and discovery that speaks directly to this second digital revolution. It argues that there is an implicit false binary opposition in much of the discussion between the semantic and the technical that unhelpfully sets traditionalists against innovators. It warns against techno-determinism, but also a nostalgia for an ordered past and a retreat into curatorial gulags. It suggests that an 'archival paradigm' might more accurately reflect the ontology of digital content that itself predicates a convergence in professional practice among archivists, librarians and museum curators. The chapter concludes from this perspective that the information community needs to return to what it is good at 'collection development' leaving resource discovery to the search engines and internet providers. Emphatically it must work with rather than against societal expectations and practice. It must stop thinking it knows best, otherwise it will be in danger of becoming irrelevant.

Item Type:Book Sections
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Moss, Professor Michael
Authors: Moss, M.S.
Subjects:Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources > ZA Information resources > ZA4050 Electronic information resources
Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources > Z719 Libraries (General)
College/School:College of Arts > School of Humanities > Information Studies

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