This interesting post came to my attention, and I thought it was worth reposting.
Guest Post: Libraries are Dying (And That’s A Good Thing) [from See Also a Library weblog by Steve Lawson]
Thu 1 Jul 2010, 11:28 am
I received this email recently from a person whom I don’t know. He mentions that he noticed that I haven’t been writing a lot lately, but perhaps I’d be interested in publishing something by someone else? Here’s an excerpt:
Dear Mr. Lawson,
… The attached article isn’t by me, but it is something that I have found and thought you might be interested in. After [other library bloggers names] refused to publish it, you were the first one I thought of.
The article, or position paper can be thought of as a “provocative statement,” not unlike those from the Taiga Forurm which you have written about so eloquently in the past. But unlike those statements, this piece goes on to explain its reasoning and make a case for its provocation. As a librarian with over ten years in the field, I found myself intrigued, then somewhat ashamed and angry to be taking this position seriously. Now it occurs to me that it might be parody. I simply don’t know what to think, but it seemed as if it might be worth sharing with you and your dozens of readers.
This explanatory note was signed “Nelson V. Waste.” The attached WordPerfect file had no author’s name on it, and it seems entirely likely to me that the whole thing is a put-on, most likely the product of Mr. Waste’s fevered mind. Less likely, but still possible, is that the provocative statement is, in fact, what it appears to be, and Waste is a cover story for the anonymous assistant director (after all, “Nelson Waste” certainly sounds like a pseudonym, doesn’t it?).
Regardless, I believe I share Waste’s estimation of the inherent interest of the statement, and am happy to publish it here for further discussion. -Steve
Libraries are Dying (And That’s A Good Thing) by Anonymous
Within the next 25 years, libraries will become wholly unnecessary. This is a good thing, not a tragedy. Librarians should embrace this fact wholeheartedly, and shift our professional mission to actively bringing this result about and preparing people for a world without libraries.
Just as economists and geologists speak of “peak oil,” the point where humans have extracted half of the Earth’s petroleum deposits, I would posit that somewhere around the year 1992, we reached “Peak Libraries” where half the demand for library services is in the past. But where that demand took place over hundreds or even thousands of years, we are now seeing an acceleration in the need for library services which will culminate in a rapid drop-off in demand, ending, inevitably, at zero.
In my long career as an Associate University Librarian, I have seen the trend increasingly from a world where libraries are one of a very few means of accessing trusted information, to a world where libraries are frequently the last place that people think to look when satisfying an information need. Nearly all the ways that we have distinguished ourselves over the past few millennia–and here I am thinking of collections, cataloging and metadata, and public services such as reference and instruction–are increasingly irrelevant.