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The Changing Role of the Librarian – A Virtual Library and a Real Archive?

Klugkist, Alex C. (2001) The Changing Role of the Librarian – A Virtual Library and a Real Archive?

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For centuries, the position of the library and the librarian was not under debate. The useful role of the library in society was more or less self-explanatory. And its librarian was an esteemed and valued functionary. In the digital information society however, the library and the librarian obviously no longer enjoy such consensus about their value. Regularly it is doubted they will be needed in the future. If libraries will survive the new developments in information and communication technology, what will these organizations look like? What future will there be for their librarians? Will the traditional library functions disappear and will they be replaced by new ones? Will librarians disappear alltogether or will they - to the contrary - be the pivot of the future information provision? This paper does not deal with the library Utopia's of the next century, but with the library and the librarian of the next decade. The accent is on libraries within educational and research institutions, especially university libraries. We shall consider developments the library will be confronted with. We think that the future library will be characterized by four aspects. In the first place it will be a gateway to information, in whatever format this information is written and wherever it is located. Because of the increasing complexity of the information landscape, the second aspect of the library will be that of a centre of expertise. Moreover, there will still be a pressing need for the librray as a physical entity, not only as a social meeting place and place of scholarly interaction, but also as a place where students and other users are offered advanced study facilities with adequate user support. Furthermore, the library will not lose its importance as an assembly point of printed literature for the next decades. The library of the near future can only take on an appropiate shape and will only survive, if librarians can serve in institutions meeting the four criteria just sketched. The librarian has to meet the demands regarding professional knowledge and skills. He must have good didactical, organizational, communicative and contactual qualities at his disposal. Generally speaking, this does not imply very new characteristics compared with the current situation. But by elaborating specific details, it will clarify that quite new job responsabilities and job attitudes are involved. There will only be a future for librarians who are willing and able to take this into account.

Item Type: Article
Series Name: 0
Language: English
Publisher: Rijksuniversiteit Groningen. Universiteitsbibliotheek
Status: Published
Date Deposited: 02 Jun 2020 10:43
Last Modified: 02 Jun 2020 10:43

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