From Catalogues to Networks: Library Systems Evolution in Digital Scenarios

Dr. Stefan Gradmann
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Libraries are inherently conservative, be it in analogue or in digital contexts. Until recently, the fundamental functional elements of librarian workflows and their interaction with users have not been substantially challenged by the emerging digital technologies, as these until recently have been put to use in what could be termed an emulation approach. Digital technologies were basically used to emulate the traditional information value chain in networked environments with libraries as one of the key institutional players as part of this chain which as a whole was centered around the book-like document as a monolithic, well understood information object. Library systems in this perspective were essentially designed to automate traditional librarian workflows and thus simply 'electrified' their functional principles: a small but seemingly stable economic niche.

We are currently assisting to a triple paradigm shift with respect to the information value chain: deeply enrooted cultural techniques are not the modelling forces driving new information formats and related functions anymore, the information value chain itself is decomposed, loosing its essential sequential, circular nature in favour of a truly networked setting and the center of gravity of the former information continuum, the monolithic information object, the document itself, is being de-constructed giving birth to newly emergent, networked clusters of information which are difficult to seize as discrete entities and whose borders cannot be clearly drawn.

This paradigm shift has tremendous implications for libraries whose institutional identity and maybe also perennity is at stake as a consequence - and so is the nature of library systems and the related economy: both will only survive if they succeed in reinventing their role in a profoundly changed information continuum. The challenge to meet is that of new methods of composition, de-composition and circulation of information objects - and this is likely to impact academic libraries and their system providers in the very near future, public libraries and their providers may follow in a more distant future. The challenge to meet in this respect is the migration from the cataloguing to the networking paradigm.

Keywords: Cataloguing, Paradigm Shift, Libraries
Stream: Libraries
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Dr. Stefan Gradmann

Universit├Ąt Hamburg
Hamburg, Germany

Ref: B07P0167