Re-Tooling Academic Libraries for the Digital
Missions, Collections, Staffing
California Academic & Research Libraries
Third Annual Conference
TEXT OF TALK
Stuart Sutton, Director
2d Keynote Speaker
School of Library and Information Science
San Jose State University
"Education for Library Service in the Digital Age."
[The following text is a transcription of a talk given at the Third Annual
Conference of CARL (California Academic and Research Libraries), in San
Francisco, CA, on Saturday, October 21, 1995. Bracketed words and phrases
are inserted by editor.]
In yesterday's plenary session, Dr. Breivik established the first of the
three themes for this Conference--the changing mission of higher education--and
this morning, I'm going to explore with you the role that some of those
changes will have in the profession of librarianship, and how the profession
is likely to play out in the nottoo distant future in our academic libraries.
In the September CARL Newsletter, my charge today is stated as "[I
am to] outline my vision of the changing nature of the library and information
management profession, and the future of the relationship between the professional
education programs and the staffing practicesof academic libraries."
Now, in a letter, Bill suggests that I try andinclude "some stimulating
and even provocative speculations." I'm not sure whether he's suggesting
that I please not be dull [laughter], or whether I should incite to riot,
... I don't know. I'll do my best.
Much of what lies behind this charge, however, I think begs for definition,
so a fair amount of my time is going to be spent looking at our notions
of this thing called the library, and this profession called librarianship.
[Librarianship in a struggle for survival]
I posit, here at the beginning, that in all of its venues, librarianship
is engaged, not only in its traditional struggle for resources, both inside
and outside the academy, but also, for the first time, librarianship is
involved in an emerging struggle with other professions and disciplines,
both for its existing domain, and for emerging niches in the information
universe for which librarianship might be suited. Many of the modest changes
that you've seen in the schools of librarianship, and even greater changes
waitingin the wings, are being shaped somewhat by this emerging competition
among professions and disciplines, because others see the processes underlying
the creation, the storage, access and dissemination of information, and
its use, as sources of power, wealth and professionalrecognition in an age
of information as commodity. So it's far from clear to me that many professionals
in the field are willing to pursuethe adaptive behaviors necessary to the
survival of the profession. It is equally unclear, to me, whether the professions
and disciplines with an eye on information management, information itself,and
information systems might not engage in the sorts of preemptive adaptive
behavior that would challenge the credibility of librarianship even in its
traditional niches. I would say that, not only is the jury out on that,
but the trial has hardly begun. But it's nevertheless here, and to be reckoned
For my comments this morning, I'll look at what appears to me, and talk
at some length, about what I think is central and immutable aboutthe definition
of this profession, and its work, in light of the demands made on libraries
as they transition from institutions identified in terms of place, and finite,
container-based collections,to logical entities--frequently geographically
distributed--which provide context, amidst a flood of information and misinformation.
In the course of the discussion, I'll hint at my response to one of the
questions I saw reflected in the [CARL] Newsletter, as to whether
there is a future for us, in the university or anywhere else, and thatresponse
is, although cautiously given, in the affirmative-- but a positive role
in our current niche and in others evolving will come only at a price.
So, what is driving all of our concerns today, in this room? For me, at
least, it's without doubt the transforming power of the emerginginformation
technologies. In a short period of time-- really less than a decade--we've
watched the dramatic release of information from the tangible media--the
containers, if you will--that were the past focus of our profession. We've
watched these technologies blur the notion of library as place, and our
notion of a geographically constrained constituency. So today we find ourselves
here, looking at re-tooling in the face of the inevitable changes in our
domain--some that have already occurred, and others that are yet to come.
So this morning, I want to divide my talk into three parts. The first part,
I'll talk about the shape of the emerging library and some of the technologies
driving its development. Second, I'll frame what is meantby librarianship
in that emerging environment. And then I'll close by exploring with you
the potential relationship between schools of librarianship and information
studies--no matter what they're called...[laughter]--and your libraries
as they are both re- tooled andtransformed. (I didn't really mean anything,
but there's a lot in names, I guess.) So let me start with some of the changes.
[Changes in the library and its environment]
Paul Saffo recently said that "the relationship between burgeoning
paper and even more rapid electronic diffusion resembles an expanding sphere,
in which volume increases more rapidly than surface area. The information
business has become a kind of piñata, a thin paper crust surrounding
an enabling electronic core. Paper has become the artifact of electronic
media but we barely notice, because the paper crust conceals the core."
And that's kind of going to be the theme of where I'm going to be heading.
Among the factors shaping the evolution of Saffo's digital core are accelerating
developments in computing, in telecommunication technologies and
their fusion with computing, and complex new information structures
that are emerging, first in primitive forms, such as multi- and hyper- media,
and others as yet to come. Now,Moore's Law tells us that computing power
will double every 18 months,and in fact what we're really seeing is a doubling
of power every year, with an order of magnitude change every three or four
years. We're seeing stunning 30% performance improvements a year in telecommunications--a
performance, by the way, which is outstripping the rate of development in
semiconductor technologies. The difference is expected (between those two
technologies) to accelerate over the course of the next decade, and I think
what we'll see emerging at the end of that (or a little further down the
road) is the inevitable digital library.
The third technology of interest to us, at least this morning, is the rapid
emergence of new, complex data structures. The convergence of all of these
technologies are transforming, and will continue to transform, libraries
and the roles played by information professionals. While Saffo's enabling
core will free us of geographic constraints to information access (and,
by the way, access to the full educational experience, ultimately), it will
result, as it already is, in a delugeof information in complex new forms
that are exacerbating the need to alleviate information overload for information
consumers through the development both of new tools for structuring geographically
distributed information in order to provide for rational access, and the
development of new service models. So it goes without saying, thatthese
technologies are rapidly transforming how we teach, they're transforming
how we learn, and construct knowledge. In other words, they're fundamentally
transforming the university itself, its libraries, and the profession of
librarianship. To handle the tasks ahead, we need a new breed, and a newly
re-tooled breed, of librarians. So, having said that about the technology,
to complete my charge, I'll explore the ramifications of some of these changes
on thefuture role of librarians, as well as the content of the profession's
knowledge base, which itself is shifting. In order to do that, I need to
take a little bit of time to define what I mean by this notion of librarianship,
and of course, in order to do that, I've got to look atlibraries and talk
about what is happening there.
[Definition of librarianship]
As simple as it may seem, in terms of definition, I've come to recognize
that there is much misunderstanding lurking behind the notion of librarianship.
And, you might as well get "where I'm coming from" here at the
top, so we can avoid some confusion later on. In theend, what will settle
out of these remarks are the following three things: (1) the concept of
library as place, both in the university and without, is giving way,
and will continue to give way, to one of library as logical entity.
(2) There is a relatively immutable base, core, of professional expertise
in librarianship that can guide us in our exploration of professional identity
in this new information universe, and provide for a definition of new skill
sets that will be necessary to survive in it. And (3) that immutable core
of professional expertise will be played out in the near future in strikingly
new ways, and in strikingly new skill sets, in the library as logical entity.
[Typology of libraries]
So let me start by giving you a typology of libraries. (I'll try and keep
it brief, because the real goal is to go beyond that, and I also see that
Michael Buckland is sitting in the back there, and he recently covered this
territory of the typology of libraries in great detail, and so if you have
questions, you can go ask him, afterwards.)I want to look at it for a moment,
though, because I want to trace along this continuum so that we can look
at some pivotal shifts in ournotion of collection and service. Now this
typology doesn't exactly match Michael's, but it is a continuum which begins
with the traditional library, moves to the automated library, then what
I call the hybrid library, and then finally to the digital library, which
is of concern to me today. The picture of that traditional libraryis
sort of the Carnegie library that we all grew up with, that I went to in
the fifties, when I was in high school, to study. And it's a place with
a finite collection that's housed, and owned. All access isgeographically
constrained--you had to go there. And, most important, all information is
container-based, or embodied in tangible media--no digital stuff in that
The first incursions into this by computing technologies were in the automated
library, and, as Michael pointed out, all that did, was help us do what
we were doing before, but maybe do it a little better. So we got OPAC's,
and circulation control, and serials control, and all of those transaction-intensive
things, but it's basically the same stuff. That automation push did really
nothing to affect our service models--basically nothing. And the nature
of collections, in a pure sense, remained container-based and finite.
The first incursions of telecommunications technologies come with linking
to bibliographic utilities and subsequently to even greater sharing of resources.
Now with the hybrid libraries, which is the third one down this typology,
we get the first glimpse of what it means to not just be in the information
container business, butin the information business. We start
dealing in a broad mix of tangible media, as well as digital information--both
storedlocally and accessed at a distance. And then finally, we get to the
digital library, which as a pure type has no geographic locus. With
it, geographic constraints to access will be gone, for both primary and
meta-information, and that will result (and I'll talk about this a little
bit later) in profound changes in the service models that we provide
So shifts along this continuum are of the following. The service models
begin to change, and along with simple resource provision, we get consultative,
value-added agency services. By that, I mean the following. The resource-provision
model is of this sort. Patronhas a problem. Patron comes to the library.
Patron talks to the librarian. Librarian says "X, Y and Z may contain
your answer." They provide the resource, and the patron "walks
the last mile," culling out the information, using the information.
Basically, we weren't interested in the use, and that last endeavor--synthesis,
and so forth, was the patron's problem. So that was the service model that
marks a lot of what we've done, basically, in our libraries. That's giving
way to a consultative model, in which the processes of synthesis,
and analysis, and the creating of new information products,is going to become
increasingly the role of the librarian. And we've seen this movement in
special libraries, but I think it's permeating research groups in academic
institutions and also in the private sector. The attributes of that model
are--and we've heard some of these before-- the right information to the
right person at the right time, and to this we'll add, at the right place,
in the right form, at the right price. So it's actually delivering information
products. So the service models are going to change. And what we do in schools,
to prepare people for that shift in service models, is going to also shift
what we do.
[Changes in concept of collection]
A second shift along the continuum is our notion of collection. It starts
as a finite array of content-bearing objects, owned and housed, in
the traditional library. And our concept of collection, as we move across
that continuum, becomes increasingly strained, as we all know. And some
would assert that, by the time we get to the digital library, there'll be
no such thing as collection anymore--which I think is hogwash!--(and I'll
talk about why a little bit later). But there is that movement in our conception
of collection, and what that means.
Along that continuum, there's also a change in intermediation. The
role played between the user information need and the data store, in the
past, has been a human process--the reference librarian, a librarian, that
serves the intermediary function. As we move toward the digital library,
more and more frequently that function will shiftto the machine (although
anybody that knows what goes on in a reference interview knows we're a long
way from machines being able totake the place of full intermediation--a
long way.) And, in fact, the abundance and complexity that are brought through
digital information in fact are increasing the need for human intermediation.
But even as we move into the digital library, somewhere there will be humans,
doing some of that intermediation, or a great deal of it.
We also see along that shift that we're moving from being in the information
container business to being in the information business itself. John
Perry Barlow, a couple of years ago--I guessit was at ASIS mid-year, in
Portland--talked about information as finewine, and that now we're at a
point where the wine has been let out ofthe bottle, and all the time we
thought we were in the wine business, when what we were in was the bottling,
and the bottle- schlepping business. And that now, for the first time, we're
confronted, in digital form, with the information itself. So suddenly, that
also comes as a big shift in the way we handle who we are.
And then finally, our notion of library as place begins to shift to a notion
of library as logical entity. Now the dynamics of some of these shifts
have a lot of people nervous. When I hear about "re-tooling"...--some
of this makes us nervous. So I'd like in the next few moments to kind of
calm our fears, and talk about librarianship and what effect this movement
will have on librarianship. And to do so, I need to play a little bit like
an academic, so you'll have to bear with me.
I think we can take professional expertise--and I don't care what profession
it is, it doesn't matter--and layer it out into a hierarchy of three
layers. At the top are core areas of professional expertise. Theseare
immutable, and they are defined by the societal problem the profession
seeks to solve, and therefore defines all professionalswithin the profession.
In library and information science, there are three core areas of professional
expertise, and those are immutable. And you can't be a professional if you've
got two of them. You've got to have three of them. (Clearly you can't be
if you have one.) But those are immutable--sit at the top. And they are
what define us, basically.
The next level down are what I call dimensions of practice. They
too are immutable, but not all dimensions are mastered by all professionals.
So this would be the arena of specialization, and so forth. But nevertheless,
they're immutable, and in library and information studies, there are four,
and I'll talk about two of them in depth, and brush on two of them.
And then at the bottom of that hierarchy are skill sets for functioning
along those dimensions. And the skill sets are variable--they change
a lot--but they're necessary to successful action along any of those four
dimensions. In LIS, they are potentially vast in number, tend to be context-sensitive:
for example, Is the context a library? Is it some other form of information
center? What are the skills that are there?
What I'm going to do is explore the top two of those. I'm not going toplay
around much with skills. (And if you ever talk to my faculty, you'd get
the impression that I think nothing of skills. Not quite true. But I think
it's the top two levels that really define us as a profession.) I'll touch
tangentially on the skills, because I think they are the most sensitive
to technological change--the skills are--not the immutable parts--the skills
are. I also think that it's the bottom layer, or the two bottom layers,
that are most susceptible to being handled by paraprofessionals, who can
fit into the architecture of the structure (and I'll talk a little about
that at the end.)
So let's take the top one. Recently, Marcia Bates, from UCLA, and Nancy
Van House, from UC Berkeley, and I, served along side library professionals
from around the state on a task force for the CaliforniaLibrary Association
regarding the future of librarianship. So the results of some of what I'm
going to talk about are the results of deliberations there, and I'm going
to preempt them a little bit by telling you some of them. About a year ago,
Marcia Bates, in an unpublished paper, defined what I believe are those
core areas, that rest at the top, and they will sound simple, but they're
[Core areas of professional expertise]
Those core areas of professional expertise are knowledge of information,
knowledge of information technology, and knowledge of users.
Now it sounds simple. But it is knowledge in those three areas that basically
define who we are and how we approach the problemwe have decided to solve--the
information problem. Now, there are other disciplines and professions out
there that are interested in thesame things. We could take computer science.
Well, they know a lot about information technology. They know a lot about
information, or atleast enough, when it impacts on the structure of the
technology, but they know nothing about content (which we do). And computer
science, basically, isn't very interested in users. [laughter] All you've
got to do is look at the fact that human factors and interface design have
made very little inroads into schools of computer science in our majorresearch
institutions, because the user is sort of tangential to that technology.
That is not to say that they couldn't become interested. And many people,
in terms of looking at credibility, in a digital age,are praying that they
do. It's one of those things [where] Breivik says "we've got to bring
ourselves to the table."
Anyway, Marcia defined those three areas. Now there is "penumbral"
knowledge (that's a lawyer talking) penumbral knowledge around that and
that is the professional is also aware of the social, politicaland economic
context in which those core areas interact, and I think that also makes
So those are the top three--got to have all three.
Four dimensions of practice
Nancy Van House and I worked on the task force at the second level, looking
at the dimensions of practice, and there are four of them. There is a tool-making
dimension, [an] information-management, or tool-use, dimension, an agency
dimension, and a management of information organizations dimension. Let
me take them oneat a time. I'll only deal with the first two really in any
The tool-making dimension confuses many professional librarians,
which surprises me. If you look back, at the end of the 19th Century, you
find Dewey. Dewey was a librarian, but he was a tool-maker. The great librarians
at the Library of Congress and on thecontinent that were looking at the
great organizational schemes that have controlled the way we organize information
for most of this century. They were all great tool-makers. Michael and I
have had dialogues about when did we drop the ball as a profession and cease
being tool-makers, and become mere tool-users. And we are. Students come
to us with their tool-kit open, ready to be filled with tools to use.
The whole process of the creation of new tools was something [where] the
schools dropped the ball--we as a profession dropped the ball--andI think
it's going to be somewhat defining, whether we survive or not,whether we
have the initiative to pick that ball up again. And stop being the complainer.
Every problem is somebody else's problem--every design problem, every implementation
problem. It's the vendor. It's those people out on the Internet, who just
don't know how to organize information. And we're floundering around there
as fragile, innocent users, instead of assuming a role in the tool- making
process. I shouldnot speak for Berkeley, but I am trusting that, in the
new school thatemerges there, there is a keen sense of identity in terms
of tool-making, and bringing that back. Because I think it's critical. Someone's
got to do it. Someone's got to conquer cyberspace, with tools that make
sense. Which doesn't mean taking Dewey out there, ... or LCSH. No, no, no.
Second dimension: Information management or tool-use dimension. Now
for me, this dimension is the creation or the structuring of context, or
information architecture, that's ferreted out of available information.
In the end, there is nothing useful, or good, about unstructured access
to all the world's information. We allknow that. Again, anyone who has wondered
around lost--"navigating" isthe term--on the Internet, knows what
we are talking about. No context. Libraries provide context.
Now my favorite example to illustrate this idea is to take a look at collection
development. And I like to wed collection development with my favorite story
about Harvard Law--or rumor about Harvard Law. Being an intellectual property
lawyer and a onetime law librarian, everybody kind of bows twice, to the
East, to Harvard Law. And there was a rumor--probably just that, but it's
instructive--that the collection policy at Harvard Law was "If it exists,
buy it." Now if you really think about it, that's no policy at all!
Because what we've got, really, is--we've got Harvard Law, sitting out here,
with that, and atthe other end are you folks, working in libraries with
severe economicconstraints, where a great deal of judgment has to be expressed
in order to construct a context that will work for your users. So I like
to say that every single library that's out here--not Harvard Law--is in
essence an opinion piece. They express an opinion, the best opinionthat
a group of librarians can express about the needs of a certain group, and
the information containers, etc., that will satisfy that need.
Now, there are those who will say that this belies the objectivity required
for good collection development. I think that those who have that opinion
have fallen prey to the popular misunderstanding in our society that objectivity
denotes an absence of point of view-- which isnot true. So great libraries
express a point of view, and great expressions of opinion. That's not going
to go away, in the digital universe. Well, it hasn't [even] arrived on the
Internet. Again, you'll get that I like Paul Saffo. Here's Paul again. Paul
Saffo notes, when talking about the Internet, "It is this plethora
of content that will make context the scarce resource. Consumers will payserious
money for anything that helps them sift, and sort and gather the morsels
that satisfy their fickle media hungers. The future belongs neither to
the conduit or content players, but to those that control the filtering,
the searching, and the sense-making tools we will rely on to navigate through
the expanses of cyberspace."
Now, John Perry Barlow, being from the Grateful Dead, echoes Saffo's thoughts
in the following terms, "In a world of floating realities andcontradictory
maps, rewards will accrue to those commentators whose maps seem to fit their
territory snugly, based on their ability to yield predictable results for
those who use them. Reality is an edit. People are willing to pay for the
authority of those editors whose filtering point of view seems to fit best."
That's collection development, in a different place. So tool-use, the structuring
of context, that's not going to go away. That's why I say it's immutable.How
it will be played out, will change. The skills underneath it, willchange.
But it will not.
Agency: The agency dimension--that's the third--I've already suggested
that there is this inexorable shift from the resource provision to a consultative
agency model. And I think that will continue. It will have ramifications.
It means a lot of increased specialization and increased subject expertise,
in order to play thoseroles effectively, so we may see a shift in the kind
of person, or theeducational backgrounds, of people coming into this profession.
I won't say any more about it.
And the last one I will say nothing about--because I don't know anything
about it--and that is the management of information organizations.
And I can't imagine, even in a digital environment,that there is not something
to be managed.
[Core expertise, dimensions of practice, are context- independent]
So, those are the four dimensions. Now this is important to get, because
in a minute I going to go over to the schools and talk about education.
Please note that the core areas of expertise--information, information technology,
and knowledgeof users--are really context- independent, as are the four
dimensions of practice. You can practice them... anywhere--EVEN in a library.
Butnot necessarily in a library. For example, consider a librarian attached
to a research unit, either in the public sector or the private sector, providing
consultative research services. Knowledge ofinformation, knowledge of information
technologies, knowledge of the users. Consider an information broker. Knowledge
of information, knowledge of information technologies, knowledge of users.
Consider the new systems designers, when we wake up to the tool-making function.
Same thing. The new tool-makers must be informed by those three things--not
the computer science two, (or one and a half), but all three. So even in
the structuring of context, in a digital universe, it need not take place
within anything closely resembling the contemporary library. So I guess
the bottom line there is: librarianship and libraries are not co-extensive.
The profession of librarianship can function well, and is functioning well,
outside of libraries, as well as within it.
So let me close with talking about education, and what's going on there.
Well, you can't have that much change in the environment and not have change
in the schools. Andwe are changing. Let me frame it by going back about
fifteen years, toa guy by the name of Robert Taylor, who was on the faculty
at SyracuseUniversity and was subsequently dean there. He talked about how
we view the information universe; and what he said was "We have this
Ptolemaic view, with the library at the center, and with users all
around it." And I think that pretty well was the truth, back with that
Carnegie library, it was the truth. If I couldn't go next door and get the
information some easier way, I went to the library to get it. Well, Taylor
said, "Hey folks, because of these emerging technologies, this view
of the universe isn't going to work!" And whathe suggested was what
he called the Copernican view of the information universe, which
has information at the center, as the focus, and around it are a
whole series of planets, among which are libraries, and DIALOG, and the
Internet (of course, the Internet didn't exist then--it wasn't in his drawing
of that universe). But libraries will play an important role, but probably
not the most important role, in the mechanisms for information access for
a lot of people. And that our focus must come to center on the information
itself--that we need to make that shift. That shift, by the way, if you
think back to what's happening technologically in the library, andso forth,
follows that same movement--the liberation, as Barlow would say, of the
wine from the bottle. Suddenly we're confronted with the information, and
this is what Taylor was talking about, a number of years ago.
Schools shift from focus on library to focus on information
So, instead of an educational system that focuses on an institution-- and
that is what our educational system has done, because the center of our
universe was the library--and the preparation of parts for that institution,
instead, the focus needs to be on the information and on the core areas
of expertise necessary to practice. So that the focus is on information
itself, and use, and what we see beginning to emerge in our studies--suddenly
we're looking at the user, but we're not simply doing studies of their use
of library materials, but we're looking at them in terms of cognition, information-seeking
behavior, how are they looking for stuff outside of these contexts. So a
whole new view of the user is emerging becausesuddenly we're focusing in
on information, information use and how people go about finding it, and
getting it, and using it.
But this shift means that we are suddenly looking at programs of study that
are less institutionally-based. Now we can pick up, there, and look at all
of the arguments and everything that we've been hearing about the name of
our schools, and it all reverberates through there. Because the focus of
study has shifted from the institution to the processes, that underlie information
creation, storage, transfer and use. And that's a big shift. And we've watched
schools across the country making that shift--started with some of the major
schools. Andat a price. At Illinois, many of the people in the alumni association
were getting ready to pull their support, because they didn't recognize
that there had been a fundamental shift in the universe. Doesn't eliminate
libraries! Libraries are still very, very important.But a fundamental shift.
Recently the School of Library and Information Science at the University
of Tennessee became the School of Information Science. It'sgoing to be very,
very interesting to see what happens when a school has the opportunity to
spring full-grown from the forehead of Zeus--which is getting ready to happen
across the Bay--it's going to be very, very interesting, because for the
first time, we'll get to see a school that has the opportunity to not have
to slowly migrate, but actually pick itself up, and put itself, into a Copernican
universe. And I think that's bloody exciting! And, we're all going to be
watching you folks, over there.
[Paraprofessionals - Role and education]
Well, let me try and do some wrapping up here. I want to talk about paraprofessionals
and stuff, and continuing education, and the education of paraprofessionals.
If you go back to that hierarchy of expertise, and I say, at the top are
those three, and every professional must have those three, and then there
are the dimensions of practice below it, and then the skills sets that support
them. Paraprofessionals have an integral role to play. They don't get the
hand-me-downs of stuff we don't want to do anymore, or we don't have time
to do anymore. There is an integral role for them to play. Thus, there is
an integral role for us as educators to take care of them andtheir education.
So, I would describe a paraprofessional as somebody who has the broad skill
sets at the bottom to function on one of thosedimensions. They may lack
the penumbral knowledge, and the stuff at the top, but they're an integral
part, and in fact, knowledge for the professional is going to be in the
higher end, and down at the bottom are going to be the paraprofessionals
who will fill in to a rational structure, instead of hand-me-downs, and
doing what we don't want to do. So...we need to assist in their education.
So I don't think it's aquestion whether we want to do it, should do it--I
think that's moot. It has to be done. And it has to be done with honor,
and dignity, so that they fit into the profession. And, if I find a paraprofessional
that in fact has all three things at the top--knowledge of information,
knowledge of information technology, and knowledge of users, and the penumbral
viewof how it functions, and how they interact--that IS a professional,
regardless of the credential. Now, as a school that gives out credentials,
that's probably a very dangerous thing to say, but they are a professional,
because that's what defines us, those functions. So we need to take that
into tow, and integrate.
Continuing education: With accelerated change, obviously, the change in
that hierarchy occurs at the bottom. The other stuff--fairly immutable.
But the technologies and stuff that are impacting the skill sets at the
bottom need to be of concern to us, and they need to be of concern to us
for the following reason--it will decided whether we will survive, on whether
we can re-tool, and keep re-tooling, and keep re-tooling. Because these
other disciplines and things out there are ready. And I don't want to hear
it--and I HEAR it from people all the time--"My library won't give
me the release time." "My library won't pay for it." Well,
it may mean survival--not from internal attack (though I guess your boss
could fire you, but..), not internally, but from the outside. Because information
as commodity is a very attractive thing today. And that's why you see all
these mergers, and things--of transport carriers, and content--they all
see it. And your survivalis going to depend on doing what Dr. Breivik
suggests-- getting "to the table," and being prepared to keep
up, with stuff that is moving so fast that my students now have to show
me what's going on, because they're playing around down there. It's moving
very, very fast.
So, let me conclude. I've said enough, and I will conclude in an inelegant
manner. But these are very exciting, I think, and frequently-- obviously--difficult
times. And we are all, libraries and schools of LIS alike, in this process
of re-tooling and transformation, in order to meet the challenges of thisdigital
age. And since I, for one, value the partnership between the profession
and its professional schools, I really deeply appreciate the opportunity
today to be able to talk with you about how I see the universe shaping up.
Return to top | Return
to Conference Program page