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Library technology in the next 20 years

Abstract

© 2017, © Emerald Publishing Limited. Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to examine the agenda for library technology for the next 20 years. Design/methodology/approach: A long-term historically based analysis of the evolving roles of librarians and library technology, especially the catalog. Findings: The rise of standardized cataloging codes, communications formats, bibliographical utilities, and software for online searching constitutes a great triumph in universal bibliographical access for everybody. But each reader is unique and no-one is “everybody” so a uniform service is not ideal for all. The ideal librarian knows both the collection and the readers. The catalog is a guide to the collection and a surrogate for the librarian. The librarian understands the readers. The development of library technology will remain significantly incomplete until the uniqueness of each reader is accommodated. Some ways to do that are noted. Research limitations/implications: Research and development should focus on relating the uniqueness of individuals to the uniformity of services provided. Practical implications: Strategic directions are indicated. Originality/value: Provides a perspective on the development of library service in terms of changing relationships between technology and librarians.

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