A 21st century library

Prelinger-1

I’ve been reading Everything is Miscellaneous, which is a great primer on how all the crazy categorization schemes that we see as natural (alphabetic, numeric), are not only contrived, but are falling apart because of information technology. So I was interested to come across this interview with Prelinger Library librarian Nancy Pearl. Rick Prelinger’s collection is at the root of the Internet Archive, a great “resource of human knowledge,” i.e. copyright free images, movies, lectures, software and a bunch of other cool stuff.

Creating the 21st Century Library — In These Times:

How do you think the digitization of books should effect how libraries manage their print collections?

In the library and document preservation worlds, there exists a concern that the growth of the digital environment will result in the end of print, and that books and newspapers need to be rescued from the digital future. I don’t believe that. Books as artifacts will always have value apart from their digital counterparts.

Yes, the online environment obviously offers mass dispersal into the world and that’s not possible in a print library environment. But part of our library project is about collapsing the polarization between print and digital, and looking toward a third way where a library can be a hybrid analog-digital space. Books are both retained and valued, and where a digital collection exists, maybe it allows more freedom with what the analog collection can do, because you can always do a keyword search of the digital collection. Maybe the benefits of one liberate the other.