Technology in the 21st Century

These are just a few quick thoughts to help us figure out where we are, where we need to go, and how!

Positive contributions:

► Portable technology has made access to and retrieval of information convenient and quick, even when the user is away from his/her personal computer;

► Huge amount of information is available through databases, although not free for the most part;

► Enhanced digitization technology;

► Print-on-demand technology;

► Instructional Technology has provided librarians with tools for online bibliographic instruction and collaboration with faculty for the creation of modules for online courses;

► Integral library systems like ILS and ILL have been enhanced with the new technologies;

► Since the end of the 20th century, robotic retrieval systems have been used for materials that were moved out of the stacks due to lack of space.

► Collection Development, including acquisitions, became faster, since dealing with vendors and producers is much easier.

Negative contributions:

New technologies have created a type of gadget-mania. Libraries consider the sue of a device based on the fact that teenagers like it and not because it will be really useful in the future; This tendency is caused by a fear of losing users or the need to bring more users in the library but the approach is wrong.

► Gaming in libraries is an issue that this author considers serious. Educational gaming is acceptable. However, a number of libraries consider using war games in order to attract users, hoping that these people eventually will come to the library to read as well. Like in the previous item above, this author believes that this approach is wrong because it will result in bringing dangerous people in the library.

► The book is in danger. Just because a lot of information is online and digitization is a must, this does not mean that print should be eliminated. It is understandable that, due to the need for more study and collaboration space and also space for equipment, libraries are removing some of the stacks. However, the tendency is to remove them completely in the next few decades. There are people who like technology but prefer to hold a book in their hands and smell the paper than going blind on an e-reader. This author feels this way, since he loves technology but prefers books for reading.

► “Access v. Ownership”: Digital packages have created problems and confusion in the copyright realm. People think that, because something is on the Web, there is no copyright. The truth is that vendors have used the digital packages to manipulate the copyright laws, forcing the libraries to pay more money for the same items, in order for the users to have as much access to them as possible. Also, packages may disappear, if the vendor’s business closes; or the library cannot pay; and the library may have hard time negotiating, thus being forced by the vendors into compromises that are budget damaging.

► Today’s students need bibliographic instruction desperately. They do not know how to browse the stacks. It is important to learn the old ways before they use the new ones. The old ways will give them new perspective and appreciation about the new ways. Also, they need to understand that “Goggling” is the last resort and not the first, which are legitimate databases. Further, they need to learn how to recognize sources that are not legitimate.

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2 thoughts on “Technology in the 21st Century

  1. I agree with all of your points, and especially the last one: Today’s students need bibliographic instruction ! It is so tempting and easy these days to choose the quickest and easiest route to finding answers. It’s our instinctive reaction, I believe, to filter out information so that we can make some sense–any sense–of what is all around us. I think that this is one of our great tasks of the present day as information professionals; i.e. to help people to understand in particular this aspect of information in today’s world and, moreover, to help them use the tools of technology to manoeuvre the seemingly limitless supply of information at our fingertips.

    More more about “cognitive overload” and its relationship to information filtering in another post…

  2. Thank you for your comments Florence! You made a great point saying that people choose the quick and easy route. In fact, they do that without considering the implications of such search. Then, of course, they complain that they get thousands (or even millions) of irrelevant sources.

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