Value Systems and Technology

After reviewing selected readings (listed below), one of the themes that I kept running across were a library’s value systems and how the digital age is endangering these library value systems.  While the ALA’s Mission Statement seeks to “enhance learning and ensure access to information for all” what does this mean in libraries today?  As libraries move into the digital realm and access to massive amounts of information it is very true that access to information has never been greater than it is today.  “Library technology needs to be considered coolly and rationally and fitted into the history and evolution of libraries, rather than greeted as an unqualified blessing” (Gorman).

As Wiegand pointed out, “We find ourselves, instead, embracing that technology uncritically, without considering cost, maintenance, reliability, and value.  Tunnel vision and blind spots;” and further that, “I think our absence as a profession from this mix of voices [disciplines like history and literature, and new interdisciplinary fields such as cultural, women’s, and ethnic, and American studies] reflects the tunnel vision of our contemporary professions discourse and constitutes one of librarianship’s major blind spots.”  So as we move forward in today’s library profession, we must consider how digital media is affecting library neutrality and value systems.  Are steps that we are taking today truly enhancing learning and ensuring access to information?  Besides the issues of digital stability, access to online information by underprivileged and underrepresented groups, and information overload resulting in loss of relevancy to information seekers, the embracing of technology in libraries should be done thoughtfully while keeping the institution’s mission and value statement in mind.

Michael Gorman (2001) Our Enduring Values: Librarianship in the 21st Century. Introduction and Chapter 1 on Google Books

Buckland, Michael K. “Five Grand Challenges for Library Research.” Library Trends 51 (Spring 2003): 675–86.

Wiegand, Wayne A. “Tunnel Vision and Blind Spots: What the Past Tells Us about the Present; Reflections on the Twentieth‐Century History of American Librarianship.” Library Quarterly


2 thoughts on “Value Systems and Technology

  1. Many libraries are adding programming to bridge the technological knowlege gaps in their communities. I imagine that we will see more and more computer literacy classes and workshops in our libraries in the future. We can’t stop the shift to more and more digital resources, but we can plan to assist library users and even non library users in the community in becoming more effective digital users. Perhaps this is an opportunity to draw non-library users into libraries. It is becoming more and more impossible to obtain employment without some degree of computer skills. I wonder how many people in our communities realize that they can develop their computer skills in libraries.

  2. I think the libraries are doing their best in providing computer literacy classes and workshops. It all depends if there space, resources, and staffing available to meet the demand of the public. Some prefer to attend classes nearby their homes. However, if their neighborhood library does not have enough space to hold a class or workshop, they are out of luck. To get the attention of others, we need to promote such events in flyers or ads. That’s how to get the non-library users to attend. It’s great that the Seattle Public Library offers computer skill courses in Chinese, Spanish, and Vietnamese.

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