Who Moved My Library?

Commentary on the changing world of libraries, from the viewpoint of a corporate library.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Dominican University's 2nd Annual Follett Lecture - Ed Valauskas presents "The Googlization of Libraries"

I have just returned from the Dominican University Second Annual Follett Lecture. Ed Valauskas, founder of First Monday, and the Follett Chair at Dominican University was the speaker and "Googlization of Libraries: Debunking the Internet Godzilla" was the topic. I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Ed is very entertaining.

Ed started out the lecture by forecasting the future if the doomday prognosticators are correct in assuming that growth of Google popularity will be negatively correlated with the success of libraries. Ed's dramatic portrait of 2015 included Chicago's Harold Washington Library being turned into public housing, New York's Public Library buildings being turned into either museums or Macy outlets .... you get the idea.

However, Ed pointed out that this "future" can be prevented. He also took the position that Google doesn't have to be the enemy. Google has legal and financial resources to fight the battles that libraries would like to fight in areas such as Copyright Law, and they are. Ed would like to see libraries embrace new technologies and incorporate them into library offerings. He also suggested that library schools produce librarians that are able to be work with these new technologies.

Libraries do have an uphill battle when it comes to public perception that everything is "Free" on the internet. I agree with Ed that dismissing the role that Google and other Web 2.0 offerings play in libraries is not going to make them go away. Instead librarians should find ways to add value, for themselves and their libraries, to strengthen the role of libraries instead of turning a blind eye and hoping that they just go away.

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