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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Redesigning Library Services: A Manifesto

Michael Buckland's brief but seminal book, Redesigning Library Services: A Manifesto, is available at the Berkeley Digital Library. This 1992 publication is often cited for its elegantly simple construct:

Paper Library > Automated Library > Electronic Library

As I noted in my earlier post today, we seem to be stuck in the transitional Automated Library, part paper, part electronic. One of Buckland's more practical insights is that local storage is optional.

"Just as the change from the Paper Library to the Automated Library, in conjunction with the rise of on-line bibliographies, changes our perspective on the catalog, so also the rise of the Electronic Library changes our perspective on collecting and local collections. Instead of our thinking being dominated by local collections, as is unavoidable with the Paper Library and the Automated Library, the effect of having electronic documents is to make local storage optional rather than necessary."

At some point, the cost of storing and maintaining paper and microform collections has to outweigh the "just in case" argument. Especially as more of the contents of those materials are available electronically. It may not be a book you can hold in your hand, but if the content can be read or viewed anytime by simultaneous users, isn't that a trade-off that cannot be denied?

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