Change and Tradition

There was so much to think about in the module this week on the model of the hyperlinked library that I have been finding some difficulty in deciding how to narrow down my thoughts. I would like to focus on two key concepts that seem to me to be at the core of the hyperlinked library model and to ask a question that pertains to something (hopefully) coming up in my life.

The idea that the world has changed and is continuing to change with the development of the Web is not a new concept. However, the fact that we are having to adapt to and contend with constant change gives rise to a new mindset and core skillset that are necessary for success in this world. I particularly appreciate the heartfelt conviction for meeting the needs of people around the world expressed in the first chapter of Michael Stephens’ The Heart of Librarianship (2016) and Steve Denning’s Forbes article “Do We Need Libraries?” (2015). Each author emphasizes a policy of not only asking users for input and incorporating user-centric practices in libraries, but also seeking to place the success and well-being of the user at the forefront. Denning’s “fourth question,” “What needs could libraries meet that users haven’t even thought of yet?” speaks to this idea that librarians as “facilitator(s) and guide(s)” (Stephens 2016) need to be creative innovators rather than simply performing the same reference tasks that have been performed for decades. Stephens emphasizes that we should be wary of the statement “We’ve always done it this way” (p. 13) as a sign of tradition remaining unchanged out of habit rather than intention.

This dichotomy of change and tradition made me think about a job that I am currently applying for as a library assistant at the UC Davis Mabie Law Library. As an undergraduate at Davis I heard stories about the law library being intensely quiet, full of students who would glare at anyone who made a sound and who would check out important course books so other students would not have access to them before an important exam in order to improve their own class rankings. While I have no way of verifying these stories, my perception of the library is as the most traditional form of library, one centered on physically books with minimal noise or interaction. Thinking about change as it is discussed in the readings for this module in library practice, organizational structure, and purpose has made me wonder how specialized libraries like a law library for students of a specific professional school might fit in with the hyperlinked library model. I am not sure what my exact question is, but I still wonder if there is a place for the more traditional library (although not endorsing the behavior of the students in the stories above) in this rapidly changing world and field.

One reply on “Change and Tradition”

Robert – I like the way you are thinking here. I think you may be right that some settings might not benefit from broad applications of the model. Perhaps some elements of participatory service could come into play as well as a more experimental information space as well. I am not an expert in any way on law libraries!

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