Information and the Future

This is the blog of the Information and the Future task force of the Rolfing Library at Trinity International University. The IF task force exists to explore the role of libraries in the future of Christian higher education.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

"Go fearlessly into the future"

The library, which will be attached to the new building, is being refashioned as simply a warehouse for books.

Xavier is among at least three dozen colleges that have taken the drastic step of merging their library and technology departments. The mergers are happening at small liberal-arts colleges after take-charge leaders — usually CIO's — arrive and see traditional boundaries between library and technology work blurring. Those leaders observe increasing amounts of scholarship being digitized, students doing research online, library books sitting unused, and a constant stream of requests for computer and Web support. They want the flexibility to allocate funds where they are most needed, be it hiring an instructional technologist or purchasing an e-book collection.

The preceding quote is from this Chronicle of Higher Education article [update: it appears on the cover of the Jan. 18th print ed]. The title quote is from Xavier's take charge CIO David Dodd in the same article.

A couple of thoughts on this. 1. The boundaries between IT departments and libraries are very grey. The wedding of information to technology is a fact that often seems unaccounted for on organizational charts. My hope would be that librarians would emerge more as leaders rather than obstacles to clearing up this mess.

2. We need to be able to articulate a clear vision of what we do in the library to counter the warehouse metaphor. I think that education should lie at the heart of that vision but ultimately it is not talk but action that will convince people of our value.

3. If you'll indulge one more thought. This is why I keep coming back to community. I believe that education for many people happens in community and that we at Universities can not take for granted that our students are finding it. Further, by fostering community as librarians we open channels of communication between librarians and students that can be used to educate them.

I still believe (most days) we can cast a vision and formulate a plan that will allow us as librarians to go fearlessly into the future but the time to act is now otherwise the future will be chosen for us.


  • At 9:02 AM, Blogger Rebecca said…

    I agree with your thought that librarians should emerge as leaders rather than obstacles to the increased interaction between technology and libraries. (Which is part of the idea of this task force!) In the article, it sounded like the students and faculty at Xavier had seen the library as more an obstacle to accessing online information than a help. This could have been part of the reason for such drastic changes there...


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