I’ve just finished reading Mark Pesce‘s latest post, The Alexandrine Dilemma, his keynote for the New Librarians Symposium that he delivered on Friday. As I was reading I was nodding my head in agreement. In it, he identifies the issues facing the library profession. How do we adapt to a changing landscape when information will be online and not available in print form and how do we make this vast repository of information accessible and manageable to the population, many of whom are going to be overwhelmed.
Mark discusses the growth of Wikipedia and the future for paid subscription encylopedias like Brittanica. I’ve been saying something similar in my school environment as we analyse useage and question the need for expensive databases.
Watch carefully: over the next decade we’ll see the somewhat drawn out death of Britannica as it becomes ever less relevant in a Wikipedia-dominated landscape.
I couldn’t agree more. I wonder if it will even take a decade.
He provides us with the focus we need to adopt for the world that is evolving;
All of which puts you in a key position for the transformation already underway. You get to be the “life coaches” for our digital lifestyle, because, as these digital artifacts start to weigh us down (like Jacob Marley’s lockboxes), you will provide the guidance that will free us from these weights. Now that we’ve got it, it’s up to you to tell us how we find it. Now that we’ve captured it, it’s up to you to tell us how we index it.
He goes on to discuss how we respond to a world where information is located on the web but needs to be ordered in some way to make it accessible.
Without a common, public taxonomy (a cataloging system), tagging systems will not scale into universality. That universality has value, because it allows us to extend our searches, our view, and our capability.
This taxonomy is the part that I am struggling with right now. How do we tag websites with a common system that makes them accessible to all. The subject heading system that accompanied the Dewey Decimal System of operation is not flexible enough to meet the needs of a population that will be used to the tagging system of folksonimies operational in Delicious and Flickr and various other applications.
So how do we do this? I don’t know just yet. Right now I’m wondering what we as a library are going to do? How do we introduce a tagging system into the systems that our libraries run with and are these organisations that we pay to support our collections even thinking about this yet? I hope so.
If you are a Teacher-Librarian and even if you’re not, you should visit Mark’s blog and read this post. There is much more in it than what I’ve drawn on here. Lots to contemplate.