Kelly Menzel, Nancy Lara-Grimaldi
The Atlas states that we still live in a condition of information scarcity, but it is no longer the information is the scarce thing—it is our ability to absorb and make sense of information—to build knowledge—that is scarce. Michael Gorman (2000) mirrors this statement when he speaks of the relative differences between today’s society and American society in the late 19th century. He speaks of the proliferation of materials, the sudden and numerous technological advances, the question of what to do with all of the new materials, how to catalog them, how to provide access, and so on.1 “In all probability,” he states, “the largest single difference in a late 20th-century life, compared with a late 19th-century life, is lack of repose and opportunity for repose.”2 Many of the questions asked about how to run a library. He argues that the core values should be the same as those asked in the latter part of the 19th century.
Many letters, communications, and editorials in the Library Journal in the earliest years of the 20th century were concerned with new techniques, methods, and applications of machinery. The same articles and pages also carry much rumination on the implications of what they saw as a great rate of change in the profession and in service to the growing and changing population.3
Regardless of the point in time, librarians have always struggled to accomplish the same things and held the same things as core values. So, what has changed since then? According to Gorman, we simply have less time to wade through all of the information being produced. Without “the opportunity for repose,” people are bombarded by too many items to look at and often too many to even keep track of. That is when people give up. The question, then, is how we as librarians should apply our age-old core values to today’s society to help a society with too much information and not enough time. Should we add efficiency as a new core value despite that, as the Atlas points out, it was deliberately not included in it after Dewey’s obsession with the topic?4 Being more efficient would certainly aid in slogging through all of the information and making it easier for our members to find what they need when they want it. Such a core value, however, would likely interfere with other core values, such as service. The most efficient service is often not the same as the best service.
American Library Association. (2004). Core values of librarianship. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/ala/aboutala/offices/oif/statementspols/corevaluesstatement/corevalues.cfm
Andrew L, Bouwhuis Library. (n.d.). Andrew L. Bouwhuis Library. Retrieved November 7, 2009, from http://library.canisius.edu
Gorman, M. (2001). Human values in a technological age: A librarian looks 100 years forward and backward [Electronic version]. Logos, 12(2), 63–69.
O’Gorman, J., & Trott, B. (2009). What will become of reference in academic and public libraries? Journal of Library Administration, 49(4), 327–339. doi:10.1080/01930820902832421.
Special Libraries Association. (2003). Vision, mission and core value statements. Retrieved from http://www.sla.org/content/SLA/AssnProfile/slanplan/index.cfm
Tolley-Stokes, R. (2009). Try on a new pair of sensible shoes. College & Research Libraries News, 70(5), 288–291. Retrieved from Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts database.
Vargas, M. (2009). Aligning core values to a philosophy of service. Catholic Library World, 79(4), 276–278. Retrieved from Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts database.