Posting to NGC4LIB
On 28/09/2011 22:00, Joe Hourcle wrote:
And a lot of it’s not in books (or journals, or other bibliographic materials), and never will be.
… but it still needs to be collected, cataloged, preserved, etc.
All of the skills of a librarian apply, it’s just on something other than books.
As for the library as an organization, you still need a place to store the collected stuff. (and for the stuff I deal with, I still feel I’m closer to a librarian than an archivist, so I can’t say that place is an archive, even if that’s what most people call us)
As the library’s holdings become more virtual, it seems to follow logically that the library itself will become more virtual as well. If the “library-as-a-place” continues to exist, it will probably become more of a locality for people to meet, e.g. group and town meetings, perhaps also as an restful sanctuary for personal reflection; naturally it will be a place to get a decent cup of coffee.
But the idea of the library as a physical place to find information (the collection) and where I can find the answers to my questions (reference) is disappearing even now. It’s amazing how quickly this has changed!
Nevertheless, I do not believe that materials can either organize themselves or that a mathematical formula can do it, no matter if just looking at that formula will make your hair stand on end and leave you speechless for a couple of days! Relying on a tool to determine something as vague as “relevance”–a tool that can be manipulated in all kinds of extremely clever ways to serve the purpose of either the greed or propaganda of unknown people (read “search engine optimization”), is really a frightening prospect.
If librarians play it right, there will be plenty of need for their skills and ethics. But I don’t know–it is a very difficult time for everyone.