The Stiftsbibliothek, or abbey library, in the Swiss town of St. Gallen
In the Guardian today, there are excerpts from letters about libraries and their ability to adapt to the new technological age. Most of the quotes from the letters were positive. Especially this one, as the writer explains that as the ability to get more information instantaneously over the internet the more the world will need librarians. I think that this is true. As long as there is information (and now with several different ways to access it) the world will still need librarians to navigate the mountains of it. Which is also why librarians will need to learn good online searching techniques and be able to keep up with technology as it changes rapidly.
“The future of libraries is bright indeed if they can get through the next few years reasonably intact. By then it should be obvious to all that their – slightly modified – function is essential to society.
The reason is clear. The information society is in the process of taking form. Here the defining products are immaterial knowledge rather than concrete objects, production units are knowledge workers rather than machines in factories, and the raw material is information.
The amount of information involved is almost inconceivable. And the complexity of the task of managing and making available for all citizens this information will demand all the qualified professional help society can obtain, and more. We are going to need our librarians desperately.
Don Mac Donald
And with the future of libraries being bright and ever-so-slightly changing at times, one of the oldest libraries in Switzerland has received a grant that will enable them to put their Medieval manuscripts online. Being that it is one of the oldest libraries surviving from the 9th century, it has a rich history that can attract many people, especially now over the internet. As an expert who is overseeing the project of digitizing the manuscripts says:
“The library has become more visible,” Mr. Flüeler said. “On the Internet we now have more visitors than in the real library.”
While not all the manuscripts are able to be viewed yet, there are at least 144 manuscripts that are. This is immensely helpful for those who have chosen to study Medieval Manuscripts as they can’t always get to a library that has Medieval Manuscripts in their holdings and if they do have a library close by, not always will they actually be able to see them. With this library, students can study the manuscripts close up. They can browse by age, signature, author, title and language. Close ups of the facsimiles and bindings are available. And even more important for the beginning student (like myself), there is a short history and description of the manuscript.
Many fear that libraries will be useless, but from these two articles today, they are far from becoming that. But only if they are able to keep up with technology.
photo credit: NY Times