How values guide our understanding of trends and transition

Center for the Future of Libraries | Library Trends | Core Library Values

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For many futurists and trend spotters, “futuring” is fundamentally about the study of change.

“We can learn a great deal about what may happen in the future by looking systematically at what is actually happening now,” wrote Edward Cornish, one of the founders of the World Future Society.

We study change so we can prepare for the many futures that might happen. We start seeing what’s coming next. We study so that we won’t be surprised. And we study so that we’ll be better prepared to start creating the future.

That’s good news for library and information professionals. We are expert in finding, organizing, processing, and prioritizing information. From wherever we are in our organizations, we all have opportunities to observe changes in our communities and consider the implications over the long term.

But observation is simply not enough. One of the biggest lessons my colleagues and I have learned while developing the Center for the Future of Libraries is that studying change is useless without considering values. We need to look at trends and changes with consideration of our own professional values (confidentiality and privacy, diversity, equitable access, intellectual freedom and expression, preservation) and the values that we seek to provide to our communities (a civic commons, democracy, discovery, education and literacy, public discourse).  And so, looking at changes, we need to ask ourselves what they might mean for intellectual freedom, for education, for equitable access, or for any of the other values that drive our work. Read more….

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Preserving U.S. Government Websites and Data as the Obama Term Ends

Archives | Internet |Government websites

Jefferson December 15, 2016

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Long before the 2016 Presidential election cycle librarians have understood this often-overlooked fact: vast amounts of government data and digital information are at risk of vanishing when a presidential term ends and administrations change.  For example, 83% of .gov pdf’s disappeared between 2008 and 2012.

That is why the Internet Archive, along with partners from the Library of Congress, University of North Texas, George Washington University, Stanford University, California Digital Library, and other public and private libraries, are hard at work on the End of Term Web Archive, a wide-ranging effort to preserve the entirety of the federal government web presence, especially the .gov and .mil domains, along with federal websites on other domains and official government social media accounts.

While not the only project the Internet Archive is doing to preserve government websites, ftp sites, and databases at this time, the End of Term Web Archive is a far reaching one.

Read more…

Who would be a librarian now? You know what, I’ll have a go

Remy Cordonnier, librarian in the northern town of Saint-Omer, near Calais carefully shows an example of a valuable Shakespeare “First Folio”, a collection of some of his plays, dating from 1623.

About the only drawback is dismissiveness from my friends and family. A working-class male taking a degree to be a what? Denis Charlet/AFP/Getty Images

 

“Who would want to become a librarian now?” asked an anonymous public servant on National Libraries Day, seeing before them a graveyard of dead libraries and old reference desks filled by volunteers. A valid question, and one to which I’ll reply: “You know what? I’ll have a go.”

I’m training to be a professional librarian, having just finished a lecture on “semantic web ontologies” and “linked data”, and sat dumbstruck in front of a “Dewey Decimal assembler” without a clue as to what I’m looking at. The course is challenging – it’s a three-year master’s degree that bites eye-watering chunks out of my wages. Why am I doing it to myself?

The fact is, I can’t not. It’s a sort of calling – like becoming a priest, only with warmer business premises. I can’t stand by and let public libraries sink. I won’t.

Forget all about reading as a pleasure, forget that children should have unlimited access to books, throw away arguments about libraries being lifelines for those less fortunate – they’re falling on deaf ears. You just have to look at the comments beneath pro-library articles to gather a general response: Kindles, the internet replacing information needs, and so on. And the one we wheel out about libraries being the centre of the community – there’ll be someone swatting that old classic aside with a “and yet the majority of the population doesn’t use them”. Read more…

 

Can We Create a National Digital Library? Robert Darnton

October 28, 2010 Issue

The following talk was given at the opening of a conference at Harvard on October 1 to discuss the possibility of creating a National Digital Library.

The purpose of this meeting is to discuss a question of vital importance to the cultural life of our country: Can we create a National Digital Library? That is, a comprehensive library of digitized books that will be easily accessible to the general public. Simple as it sounds, the question is extraordinarily complex. It involves issues that concern the nature of the library to be built, the technological difficulties of designing it, the legal obstacles to getting it off the ground, the financial costs of constructing and maintaining it, and the political problems of mobilizing support for it.

Despite the complexities, the fundamental idea of a National Digital Library (or NDL) is, at its core, straightforward. The NDL would make the cultural patrimony of this country freely available to all of its citizens. It would be the digital equivalent of the Library of Congress, but instead of being confined to Capitol Hill, it would exist everywhere, bringing millions of books and other digitized material within clicking distance of public libraries, high schools, junior colleges, universities, retirement communities, and any person with access to the Internet.

The ambition behind this project goes back to the founding of this country. Thomas Jefferson formulated it succinctly: “Knowledge is the common property of mankind.” He was right—in principle. But in practice, most of humanity has been cut off from the accumulated wisdom of the ages. In Jefferson’s day, only a tiny elite had access to the world of learning. Today, thanks to the Internet, we can open up that world to all of our fellow citizens. We have the technical means to make Jefferson’s dream come true, but do we have the will? Read more…http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2010/oct/28/can-we-create-national-digital-library/

What Libraries Can (Still) Do James Gleick

Deutsches Historiches Museum/Arne Psille/Art Resource Heinrich Lukas Arnold: The Reading Room, circa 1840

Of the many institutions suffering through the world’s metamorphosis from analog to digital (real to virtual, offline to online), few are as beleaguered as that bedrock of our culture, the public library. Budgets are being slashed by state and local governments. Even the best libraries are cutting staff and hours. Their information desks are seemingly superseded by Google, their encyclopedias are gathering dust. And their defining product, the one that lines their shelves, now arrives in the form of a weightless doppelgänger that doesn’t require shelves.

In the technocracy, all the world’s information comes to us on screens—desk, pocket, wrist, goggles—and no one trudges through wind and rain with library card in hand to find a single worn object. After all, when you want the text of Magna Carta, you don’t track down the original. Same with books? “Libraries are screwed,” said Eli Neiburger, a Michigan library director, in a much-quoted presentation at a Library Journalconference in 2010. “Libraries are screwed because we are invested in the codex, and the codex has become outmoded.”

So is the library, storehouse and lender of books, as anachronistic as the record store, the telephone booth, and the Playboy centerfold? Perversely, the most popular service at some libraries has become free Internet access. People wait in line for terminals that will let them play solitaire and Minecraft, and librarians provide coffee. Other patrons stay in their cars outside just to use the Wi-Fi. No one can be happy with a situation that reduces the library to a Starbucks wannabe.

Perhaps worst of all: the “bookless library” is now a thing. You can look it up in Wikipedia.

Read more:http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2015/oct/26/what-libraries-can-still-do-bibliotech/