> On Tue, 8 Sep 2009 16:43:46 -0400, …
> >Libraries had a chance with the web, but bad technology, bad thinking
> >and discouragement from OCLC and others stymied engagement, and more
> >than a decade we almost NEVER get a library in a search result.
> >Libraries had a chance with the open data, social networking and
> >mashups, and they dropped the ball. No top 1,000 website uses library
> >data, except Google Books (sort of), and even in social cataloging, of
> >the five sites, only one (LT) uses library dataýand that’s been a
> >constant struggle.
> >Now we’re moving past the web and metadata into the stuff itselfýand
> >the Kindle may well be the coup de grace.
> >Sorry to be a pessimist.
> I can imagine that I would agree completely *if* I were not a librarian, so
> I fully confess that I have a personal stake in this discussion. It’s tough
> when others consider that you and your career should be consigned to the
> waste-basket of history, and it’s even worse when you secretly think it may
> be true, yourself.
> Of course, I do not want us to go silently into that great goodnight, and
> from the larger point of view, I don’t think that librarians should
> disappear. When I work with people, it turns out that they don’t have the
> slightest idea how to go about finding useful information on the web, other
> than typing words into a Google box and watching what does and does not pop
> up. It’s all a complete mystery to them; they don’t understand how Google
> works any better than how the library catalog works. It’s all rather like
> people watching a magician onstage, producing rabbits, cards and flowers out
> of their coat sleeves, hats, and from behind someone’s ear!
> But libraries are threatened as they perhaps, have never been before. They
> demand a lot of money, which has been short for a long time and getting
> shorter as we speak, while libraries often have some of the most attractive
> spaces and buildings on a campus or in a community–space that others would
> prefer to have for themselves.
> This is the climate why I believe librarians must sit down and deeply
> reconsider what it is that they are *really* doing, doing something the
> horse-and-buggy folks did *not* do when automobiles were introduced. Those
> people thought they were in the horse-and-buggy business, but it turned out
> they were not. They were in the transportation business, but they
> couldn’t–or wouldn’t–see that at the time and everything passed them by. I
> think journalists are in the same dilemma today. They must reconsider what
> they are *really* doing, and it is not writing for a newspaper on a topic
> assigned by an editor to get some filler for the local section. I don’t know
> what they are really doing, but that is their problem, not mine.
> I have spent some time at this, and I think that the business that libraries
> are really in is *not* maintaining and organizing collections; it’s not
> selection, acquisition, description, organization, circulation, reference,
> preservation. I think the business that libraries are really in is:
> facilitating scholarly communication. But I use the term “scholarly
> communication” in a different way than what is commonly understood, but I
> can’t find better term(s). In the sense that I am using the terms, a
> “scholar” is not just some dude with a PhD. It means anyone who is
> serious and who wants to learn something. This can mean a 4-year old child
> to an emeritus professor. So, the emphasis is on helping people to learn,
> not so much for sheer entertainment, although they can certainly use our
> tools as well.
> I also see “Communication” differently: not just simply emails or
> between people and text, but communication that goes beyond time and space.
> In this sense, someone from today can “communicate” with Plutarch or
> Confucius, although it is rather one-way communication, but an 18th century
> scholar on Plutarch can also be included in this communication, as well as
> those today.
> So, once this idea of “scholarly communication” is seen, our task is
> “help” in all kinds of ways. That’s what libraries and librarians have
> always done. We *help* in determining useful vs. non-useful information,
> reliable sources, providing reliable search results, and so on. In the past,
> we controlled a lot of this process because of the intricacies of the book
> market and through our cataloging rules, but the new information environment
> means that a lot of the controls we have always enjoyed in selection,
> acquisition, description and so on have already disappeared. We must accept
> that–in some cases, gratefully!–and move on.
> There’s still a place for librarians, their skills and I think perhaps most
> important is their ethical stance. But we’ve got to carve it out somehow.
> Jim Weinheimer
> On Tue, 8 Sep 2009 16:43:46 -0400, …