Thanks to Pamela Ben-Eliezer for pointing out Richard Horton’s opinion piece on libraries in this week’s Lancet [*] In it, he provides an entertaining tour of the library’s historical purpose as custodian of knowledge and argues that today’s medical libraries should band together to provide a global digital storehouse of scientific information.
I was particularly intrested in his description of Google as “the world’s head librarian”:
Its mission is to organise the world’s information and, where it can, to squeeze money out of that information. When the Google library project was launched in 2004, it was hailed as “revolutionary” … Critics … have argued that what will be archived will be determined by what somebody wants to sell, not by independent judgment about what matters. Smart software may replace the reflective brain. In this archival chaos, access to information might actually diminish. A past president of the American Library Association has called Google’s vision an “expensive exercise in futility”. [*]
In the Google-driven world, “The user has no mind, only a searchbox; no thought, only keywords” while “The 21st-century librarian is an expert in knowledge management and user journeys.” How depressing! Read the rest of this entry ?