Thursday, March 31, 2016

Will Libraries Outlast The Internet?

The Telegraph recently reported on Roly Keating, the head of the British Library, who argues that libraries could outlast the Internet.

He said that he is shocked at how many "smart people" still questioned whether libraries were still viable in the modern age. He added, "This feels a pretty brutal choice that we are allegedly confronted with. And it won't surprise you that I think it's a false contradiction and an utterly false choice to make."

Librarians are confronted with this question often - from inquiring acquaintances to unassuming loved ones.

As Keating continued, "When we talk about libraries, I'm told about the old values, the traditional values of these institutions. Some believe they are being replaced by new ones about being more open and connected and virtual. And of course our belief, passionately, at the British Library is that it's about both. And that's the great richness of what a library is and can be."

Speaking of how libraries could and would flourish in a society obsessed with the Internet, Mr Keating added he had been "very struck" by the strength of global networks dedicated to the preservation of information.

Keating is expressing the sentiment of librarians across the world. It's not a choice between print and digital - it's about creating global networks of information (whether print or digital) that preserve information in whatever format.

Additionally, Keating spoke to the library as institution when he said, "They stand for a certain freedom, and privacy of thought and search and expression. They stand for private study in a social space; they are safe, they're places of sanctuary and play a vital role in some of the poorest communities. And they are trusted."

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