Electronic Information – Threat or Challenge to Librarians and Library Buildings
For about half a century now, some librarians and non–librarians have been fretting and frightened about the advent of modern technology. Futurists aggravated the rumour mill they asserted that with desk–side micros, full text databases, self–dialing modems, user–friendly software and expert systems, people were going to treat themselves to information, librarians as intermediaries were in danger of losing their jobs and library buildings would become museums. It is the objective of this paper to determine whether modern technology is a threat or a challenge to librarians and library buildings. Using the survey research method, the writer came up with the findings that at no time will the book be completely displaced by electronic resources because as new things and methods emerge, they exist side by side with the old ones; that the development of technology is not a linear process where new inventions completely replace the older ones; that world trends in the paper industry and Internet use do not justify the fears and threats arising from information technology; that development is a continuous process, that an invention is not an end by itself but only a means to an end and that the advocates of futurism have not stopped to question the purposes of the changes and innovations. It was also found that the challenges are more than the threats. These include the ability of librarians to keep abreast of these technological developments, re–tool themselves and maintain their role rather than followers; identification of information needs; format of policies regarding the selection, acquisition, processing and management of electronic resources, and the planning and design of library buildings in an electronic information age. The conclusion is that electronic information is more of a challenge than threat to librarians and library buildings.
KEYWORDS: Electronic Information; Electronic Information–Challenges and Threats; Electronic Library Buildings; Virtual Libraries