Gini Nelson\’s Engaging Conflicts

March 29, 2007

Engaging Conflicts Celebrates First Anniversary, and Asks Us To Ask: Are Librarians Totally Obsolete? (The Answer Is No) —

Filed under: Wikis and Podcasts and Blogs, Oh My! — Gini @ 9:15 am

intricate-wooden-carving-against-turquise-sky.jpgI’m late writing this, both in terms of the hour of the day (it’s after 10 a.m. local time) and from when I found this article (that was on February 26th, and it was itself published on January 30th). But I want to post today, because today is the one year anniversary of the first Engaging Conflicts posts! (Here is the link to the first post: Why Speak of Spirit and Conflict In the Same Breath?  Thank you, all, very much for your kind support and appreciation and help. I appreciate your kindness.

And I wanted to post about the article Are Librarians Totally Obsolete? because they aren’t, and we need to be reminded of all the reasons why. To me, it’s about literacy, and critical thought, and being able to use the wonderful resources available on the net and elsewhere (like in libraries) without being unduly distracted or lost because of everything else (overwhelmingly) available on the net. I love the net, and I want people to know how to use it well, and to know where else to go.

Here are the highlights of the 33 Reasons Why Libraries and Librarians are Still Extremely Important in Will Sherman’s superb article, and his Conclusion:

1. Not everything is available on the internet

2. Digital libraries are not the internet

3. The internet isn’t free

4. The internet complements libraries, but it doesn’t replace them

5. School Libraries and Librarians Improve Student Test Scores

6. Digitization Doesn’t Mean Destruction

7. In fact, digitization means survival

8. Digitization is going to take a while. A long while.

9. Libraries aren’t just books

10. Mobile devices aren’t the end of books, or libraries

11. The hype might really just be hype

12. Library attendance isn’t falling – it’s just more virtual now

13. Like businesses, digital libraries still need human staffing

14. We just can’t count on physical libraries disappearing

15. Google Book Search “don’t work”

16. Physical libraries can adapt to cultural change

17. Physical libraries are adapting to cultural change

18. Eliminating libraries would cut short an important process of cultural evolution

19. The internet isn’t DIY

20. Wisdom of crowds is untrustworthy, because of the tipping point

21. Librarians are the irreplaceable counterparts to web moderators

22. Unlike moderators, librarians must straddle the line between libraries and the internety.

23. The internet is a mess

24. The internet is subject to manipulation

25. Libraries’ collections employ a well-formulated system of citation

26. It can be hard to isolate concise information on the internet

27. Libraries can preserve the book experience

28. Libraries are stable while the web is transient

29. Libraries can be surprisingly helpful for news collections and archives

30. Not everyone has access to the internet

31. Not everyone can afford books

32. Libraries are a stopgap to anti-intellectualism

33. Old books are valuable

Society is not ready to abandon the library, and it probably won’t ever be. Libraries can adapt to social and technological changes, but they can’t be replaced. While libraries are distinct from the internet, librarians are the most suited professionals to guide scholars and citizens toward a better understanding of how to find valuable information online. Indeed, a lot of information is online. But a lot is still on paper. Instead of regarding libraries as obsolete, state and federal governments should increase funding for improved staffing and technology. Rather than lope blindly through the digital age, guided only by the corporate interests of web economics, society should foster a culture of guides and guideposts. Today, more than ever, libraries and librarians are extremely important for the preservation and improvement of our culture.

 Bravo, Will! 

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