T.Scott, my favorite blogger, again made some interesting points about the changing nature (and relevance) of libraries. Coming from the Marriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary definition that a library is either a place or a collection, he concluded that neither concept is getting more important in these days, rather less:
The very essence of the digital world is that place in general has become less relevant. And in an age when the activity of a collection development librarian is focused on licensing content rather than on actually acquiring anything, the concept of a collection has been stretched past the breaking point.
In fact, for medical librarians the building of physical collections isn’t that important any more. Every time someone is asking for missing volumes I wonder if he runs a sucessful library or a store house. Especially in the medical field, most important is instant access to the newest research literature. 80% of requests are for the last ten volumes. And so we’re going on: Building virtual collections which fit perfectly the very needs of our users, rather by licensing than by purchasing journals.
Obviously, T.Scott does not believe in the miraculous power of Web 2.0 technologies:
But we are fooling ourselves mightily if we think that social software, gaming, and friendlier signage are going to keep our places and collections as important to our communities as they once were.
I will not discuss his further arguments, e.g. why the great age of librarianship is just beginning, you have to read it by yourself. In a second post, T.Scott thinks about the re-use of volumes-depleted library buildings, a common topic in medinfo.