Reflection #1: Foundational Readings

“The library is not a building, a website, or a person; it is a platform for scholars, students, cultural enthusiasts, and others who want to absorb and advance knowledge.” – Brian Mathews


As I began diving into the foundational readings and lectures, the phrase “the future of the library” kept coming to mind, which is perfectly summarized in this article on Slate. I am frequently asked by friends, family members, and colleagues why I am working on a master’s degree in library science. The question is a mix of curiosity and incredulity: Why invest so much work into becoming a librarian when libraries are outdated and old fashioned? After all, we now carry access to the entirety of the world’s knowledge and information in our pockets, right?

Spending some time with these readings has given me a better (or at least a longer) answer. I am working to be part of a new generation of information professionals who are redefining what libraries can be in the 21st Century. I love the quote from Brian Matthews that starts off this blog post. If a library is a platform, as opposed to a physical space or single website, it has a greater potential to serve the needs of all its users and to grow and innovate. As an employee at a tech startup, I am accustomed to the rapid change that is a necessity of staying competitive and meeting the ever-changing needs of our users. It is critical to always be looking ahead and being willing to try new things. If we release a new feature, we have to be prepared to hear from our users/customers/patrons and tailor it to their needs.

“If we remain steeped in nostalgia then I think we’re in trouble. At some point we have to take a leap into the future. Our focus can’t just be about adding features, but about redefining and realigning the role and identity of the academic library. We can’t map our value to outdated needs and practices, but instead, must intertwine ourselves with what’s needed next. It’s time to innovate.” – Brian Matthews

The library of the future is a lot like the Jedi Archives from Star Wars. Users have instantaneous access to any of the world (or galaxy’s) information in an electronic format. Though written in 1992, Buckland’s “Redesigning Library Services: A Manifesto” perfectly predicts the changing form of libraries. Along with the traditional “paper” library, new automations and electronic resources have increased the efficiency of libraries to adapt to the changing needs of their users. In a way, libraries are the competition for tech services like Google, Amazon, and Netflix. The advantage is that libraries have a mandate to be free and accessible for all. I’m looking forward to exploring these concepts and ideas going forward, and delving deeper into the Hyperlinked Library.

5 thoughts on “Reflection #1: Foundational Readings

  1. Gina Martinez says:

    I too love the concept of the library as a platform and am looking forward to exploring the concepts of this class.

  2. Hi Joel,

    I enjoyed reading your blog and your thoughts about why you have chosen to pursue your MLIS. I too have thought about my reasons for pursuing an MLIS, as I’m sure many in the program have. Personally I want to give back to my community and provide information/resources for everyone. As you stated “libraries have a mandate to be free and accessible to all”, and I think this is exactly why I want to pursue my MLIS. It’s not about providing the latest technology but about creating an environment for everyone, especially those that do not have access to resources. The library is a great space for so many, and as we approach Library 2.0 I think this space will be more than just books, it will be an inviting space for everyone to participate.

  3. I am reminded of Samwell Early arriving at the library in the Citadel on Game of Thrones (I hope that is not a spoiler). The wonder he experienced seeing the vast space etc is similar to the Jedi library, although the Jedi must have better technology. (I am a bit concerned about the automatic retrieval system for the death Star plans in Rogue One).

    Finding ways to inspire wonder and joy at what the library provides is certainly part of what we should be doing in this landscape of library as platform.

  4. Profile photo of Sabrina Mora Sabrina Mora says:

    I agree with the Brian Matthews quote. The other day at the library I work at I overheard a business professor talking to another faculty member asking if he thought the school’s library would become irrelevant within the next couple of years. His response was no. He went on to explain to her how we have changed our library over the last 10 years (including ebooks and online databases)to keep up with the times. He also explained to her how we have done some remodeling so-to-speak to provide students with a communal area for group studying/projects, which the students like and want.

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