In Librarianship: A Changing Profession author Peter Young discusses the changes and challenges he sees for librarians of the future. The article was written in 1996, so some of what he talks about has already come to pass, but other things are still in a state of flux.
seems to have a rather negative attitude about technology in the
library. He wistfully recalls the days when his father was a librarian
and used actual books to create a bibliographic dictionary. In contrast
Young says he spends too much time staring at a screen and using
keyboards. He also makes several comments about the "fast paced changes"
that technology brings. Attitudes like this are exactly why librarians
are sometimes stereotyped as being stodgy and not willing to change. He
also claims that librarians feel that they are losing control of their
traditional role of choosing the "best" information and cataloging and
indexing that information. I would argue that this is exactly the area
librarians need to "take control of" in order to have a secure place in
the digital environment.
Young brings up important issues that
libraries will face because of technology. He wonders about
telecommunication laws and their impact on censorship, intellectual
freedom and liability. We know from current times that certain funding
libraries receive to help defray the cost of internet access comes with a
requirement to protect minors on the internet. This is a form of
censorship that libraries have allowed because of the benefits of having
internet seems to outweigh the downside of having to filter the
He wonders if print materials will be available at all
in the future since so much government print was being moved online.
This is still an issue that libraries deal with.
He then moves
on to discuss how librarians might have to change in order to serve
patrons in the increasing digital world. He doesn't give a lot of
answers to this question, but he does point out some areas where
librarians could branch out such as educating patrons about choosing
good sources, or providing indexing/cataloging/or preservation of
Young tries to make the point that moving to a
more digital world will be as earth shattering as the discovery of
fire. I'm not sure I agree with his point on this, but I do think that
it will be at least as revolutionary as the printing press. They are
both inventions that allow for faster and easier communication and
dissemination of ideas.
Over all I didn't like the "sky is
falling" attitude that Young had, nor did I like how negative he was
about changes. Change isn't all bad, and it's important to keep an open
mind about new technologies so that the useful ones can be taken
advantage of while the less useful ones can be set aside.