Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Finding Common Ground: Creating the LIbrary of the Future Without Diminishing the Library of the Past

Finding Common Ground: Creating the Library of the Future Without Diminishing the Library of the Past. LaGuardia, Cheryl and Barbara A. Mitchell, eds. New York: Neal Schuman, 1998. isbn 1555702902 025.00285 Recre

From Library Journal
A conference held at Harvard in March 1996, "Finding Common Ground" addressed anxieties over the future of libraries, "virtual" and otherwise. Editors LaGuardia (coordinator, Electronic Teaching Center, Harvard College Library, and LJ columnist) and Mitchell (head of access services, Widener Library, Harvard College) helped plan the conference and have sorted the numerous papers into six topical sections focusing on technology, service to library users, support for scholarly research, economic issues, organization of information, and the library organizational structure. Collections of conference proceedings are often uneven; this publication is no exception, featuring several high-quality papers among a number of less engaging efforts. (Undoubtedly, all of the contributions would have been more effective at the event itself.) All of the papers pertain almost exclusively to academic or research libraries. The unquestionable high point is Clifford Lynch's insightful keynote address, which ought to be read by librarians both in and out of academe. Most of the remaining works recount findings from studies or experiences at the presenters' institutions, occasionally lapsing into excessive detail. Academic librarians and library and information science scholars will not likely read the work from cover to cover but will find a good number of the papers worth their time and attention.

Here is an exploration of reasonable, cost-possible ways to develop the libraries of tomorrow. Over 50 articles by top thinkers including Clifford Lynch, Walt Crawford, Margo Crist, James Rettig, and Maureen Sullivan, cover such topics as redefining the future of reference services; government information in the 21st Century; integrating technology and information skills across the curriculum; developing new electronic services; cataloging digital libraries; and migrating an information system to the World Wide Web.