Wednesday, October 19, 2011

"Checking Out" by librarian and archivist Shannon O'Neill

From the Sunday, October 16, 2011 NYT, page 9 Sunday Review:

Op-Art Checking Out

"Shannon O'Neill is an archivist and reference librarian at the Atlantic City Free Public Library. "

"AS a librarian and archivist, I am often asked if I believe that, one day, libraries will disappear. While the present situation for many libraries is difficult budget cuts, closings and furloughs I think that libraries will persist.

Libraries are always in a state of transformation: as the means of information production and consumption change, so do libraries. We exist to help you navigate complex systems of information, whether its the bureaucracy of the welfare system or a pile of dusty boxes filled with archival documents. This is an increasingly necessary service in a society that is ever more reliant upon data.

What has changed, and will continue to change, is the library's appearance. The way the library looks today is drastically different from the way it did 50 years ago. Many of the visual cues of library-ness are vanishing. When we moved to automated and integrated library systems, we no longer had a need for iconic items like card catalogs or stamps for due dates.

One of my duties as an archivist is to document history. Given this, I cannot help but preserve the library artifacts that I find."

No comments: