One For The Librarians

Prof. Dave Lankes, of Syracuse University’s iSchool, has a great post today about incorporating new, digital, mashedup data into library catalogs and collections.

He asks

Does it make sense to put this [mashup] in that catalog? How would you even do it? Not the paper they are presenting, but the actual system.

As librarians we must greatly broaden our concepts of the services we provide, and how we organize them. One could imagine a transportation library where this is the primary interface for members. Add to this real time world links to planning and environmental data (click on that road, up comes the construction records – click on that bridge and access the inspection schedule).

Here’s my take: to remain relevant, libraries must adapt and overcome the challenges posed by society’s changing information dynamics (production, consumption, distribution, etc.).  Failure to do so in a relatively short time will relegate libraries to the same place as other information age relics (see AOL, Juno, etc.)

These organizations once provided valuable services, and were industry leaders, innovative, and worth millions.  They also failed to adapt to the changing demands of their customers, and as such, have found themselves irrelevant and forgotten in a mere matter of years.

I’m not intending this post to be one of doom and gloom, just offering that the challenge of incorporating digital and user-created content is the next great hurdle for libraries and librarians.

I’m confident that some of my colleagues, perhaps with Prof. Lankes’ guidance, will tackle and ultimately overcome this problem.

Hopefully they can do it in time!


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