I hadn't realized my little funny would prompt such a
passionate debate. :-) (And I'm on Digest mode, so it
takes me a while to get through all the messages).

My unwritten point was that libraries remain temples
of information not necessarily because of the
resources they offer, but the services they provide to
a world in critical need of information navigators
through the noise of the Internet. Why is the library
still important? Consider these values of
librarianship as taken from Shiyali Ramamrita
Ranganathan's Five Laws of Library Science:

1) Books are for use. 
2) Every reader his or her book. 
3) Every book its reader. 
4) Save the time of the reader. 
5) The Library is a growing organism. 

Substitute recordings or databases or Internet
resources if you want for book, but these principles
still hold up as valid goals for information
providers. In 1995, future ALA president Michael
Gorman articulated five new laws for the 21st century.
One of those was to "respect all forms by which
knowledge was communicated," and another was to "honor
the past and create the future." 

To these ends those of us who are librarians (and I
don't claim there is consensus) try to provide the
most useful resource for a patron's information needs.
Sometimes that will be a book, sometimes a video,
sometimes a microfilm, sometimes an Internet database.
All research builds on that which has been done in the
past; and there is no evidence (save Google's testbed
of five libraries) that it will economically viable to
provide a world of digitized primary documents in the
next decade (or two) to allow professional researchers
to only use the Web for their research.

While I was in library school in Indiana, I met many
students that were on fire from the idea of working
with primary materials like rare books and manuscripts
(as well as cylinders and 78s, photographs and nitrate
film). I think that there will be those in every
generation who value artifacts from the past and will
want to preserve them. Part of preservation is keeping
the memory of that object alive, along with its
context, in the form of access through surrogate
copies (microfilm, digitization, reprinting). Two of
the greatest gifts scholars and librarians have given
has been the bibliography and the catalog which
document the existence of materials that would
otherwise be forgotten. We are all in the business of
preserving memory for ourselves, our children, our
students, as well as future generations.

Ultimately I believe the two most valuable commodities
a library can offer any community is its librarians
and its buildings (some of the last free, public
spaces where community members can gather without the
pressure to consume.) I don't think the library is
going anywhere. While some of the services it offers
and the internal processes we practice must change,
our goals remain and the backlog continues.


Thomas Pease
Library of Congress

* These statements are my own, and are not meant to
represent any official views of my employers or
institutions to whom I offer my services.

--- Thom Pease <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> What's even more frightening is the cartoon from
> 3/17
> in which Jeremy said that he was busy doing research
> for a history paper due the next day. His mother
> muses
> "Ah, research! When I think of the hours I spent at
> the library when I was your age..." Jeremy then says
> "Done!," turns around and asks " went to a
> library?"
> I actually thought the strip's language was a little
> stilted when he asked for the URL. I thought for
> sure
> he would ask for the name of the article and just
> google it.*
> * Google (v) = "to search for information on the
> Internet, esp. using the Google search engine."
> ( from Webster's New
> Millennium™ Dictionary of English, Preview Edition
> (v
> 0.9.6))
> Thom Pease
> > Lou Judson wrote:
> >
> >  Gee, that makes sense to me! I missed the article
> as my online sub 
> to
> >  the NYTimes somehow lapsed...
> >
> >  Lou Judson • Intuitive Audio
> >  415-883-2689
> >
> >  On Mar 21, 2006, at 5:09 PM, David Lennick wrote:
> >
> >  > Not necessarily....anyone see yesterday's
> "Zits"
> comic strip? The
> >  > father is
> >  > laughing uproariously and tells the kid,
> "Jeremy,
> you have to read 
> > this
> >  > newspaper article." The son replies,
> "Okay...what's the URL?"
> >
> >  Or he could even say, Text it to me, only that
> would be "txt2M" in 
> his
> >  language.
> >
> >  ;-)(

Blog: "Audio Librarian: From A to D and Back Again"
E-mail: [log in to unmask]

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