BiblioTech: Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of Google by John Palfrey [review]

Libraries | Advocacy | Digitization | Data preservation | Book review

Reviewed by Stephanie L. Gross, MSLIS

BiblioTech: Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of GoogleBiblioTech: Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of Google by John Palfrey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Reviewer bio:
I am an academic librarian whose main responsibility has been to establish and maintain a large database for electronic reserves. I have a solid background in public service, and have mentored library school students and recent graduates for over 10 years. I am conversant in issues relating to access and technology relating to digitization of materials as well as those born-digitally. Since I follow library news on a daily basis, I read this book more as a review of the known, while noting sources for future use. Most of those concerned digitization of material and aspects relating to institutional repositories. A second focus was based on a new work responsibility, that of personal librarian to undergraduate honors students.

Review:
This volume was written by a “feral” librarian with a law degree. It included the major areas where and how libraries are ever-relevant today: users, spaces, platforms, hacking, networks, preservation, education and copyright. Noteworthy highlights for me were the discussions of how some librarians and advocates are reinventing libraries while acknowledging their tradition roles in democratic society. Public, academic, school and special libraries were included. The ‘hybrid-ness’ of libraries is emphasized, along with the innovative factor of digitization of a variety of materials. Risks are involved when print is not saved to backup data. “Data rot” happens when technology fails, but also when newer forms outpace older, obsolete ones. Budgets are stretched to accommodate both digital and analog materials. The author calls for the ‘collaboration’ among librarians, the establishment of library networks, consortia, and private as well as public funding. The conundrum of copyright, data rights and collection policies was briefly examined.

Additional Subject headings might include:

Digital libraries
Web archiving
Digital preservation
Archival materials – Digitization
Library materials — Digitization
View all my reviews

Advertisements

Philosophy can teach children what Google can’t | Charlotte Blease

With jobs being automated and knowledge being devalued, humans need to rediscover flexible thinking. That starts in schools

3500 Ireland’s president Michael D Higgins: ‘The teaching of philosophy is one of the most powerful tools we have at our disposal to empower children.’ Photograph: Jane Barlow/PA

At the controls of driverless cars, on the end of the telephone when you call your bank or favourite retailer: we all know the robots are coming, and in many cases are already here. Back in 2013, economists at Oxford University’s Martin School estimated that in the next 20 years, more than half of all jobs would be substituted by intelligent technology. Like the prospect of robot-assisted living or hate it, it is foolish to deny that children in school today will enter a vastly different workplace tomorrow – and that’s if they’re lucky. Far from jobs being brought back from China, futurologists predict that white-collar jobs will be increasingly outsourced to digitisation as well as blue-collar ones.

How should educationalists prepare young people for civic and professional life in a digital age? Luddite hand-wringing won’t do. Redoubling investment in science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) subjects won’t solve the problem either: hi-tech training has its imaginative limitations.

In the near future school-leavers will need other skills. In a world where technical expertise is increasingly narrow, the skills and confidence to traverse disciplines will be at a premium. We will need people who are prepared to ask, and answer, the questions that aren’t Googleable: like what are the ethical ramifications of machine automation? What are the political consequences of mass unemployment? How should we distribute wealth in a digitised society? As a society we need to be more philosophically engaged.

Amid the political uncertainties of 2016, the Irish president Michael D Higgins provided a beacon of leadership in this area. “The teaching of philosophy,” he said in November, “is one of the most powerful tools we have at our disposal to empower children into acting as free and responsible subjects in an ever more complex, interconnected, and uncertain world.” Philosophy in the classroom, he emphasised, offers a “path to a humanistic and vibrant democratic culture”. Read more…