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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Editorial From: New Library World, Volume 115, Issue 7/8
Information and communications technology (ICT) has created a new library world over the past 20 years. This double issue of the journal looks at the ways in which information and library provision is changing – and still needs to change – and where librarians can make the most effective interventions.
Makri, Ellis and Attfield focus on the law, one of the most literature-intensive subject disciplines, to see what effect electronic information sources have had on lawyers’ essential current awareness monitoring, and, more especially, why the user-base does what it does, so that future provision can be made not only more effective but also increasingly attractive. Adopting an ethnographic approach allowed the researchers to develop a rich picture of information behaviours and electronic resources in the broader context of information retrieval and usage overall. A whole series of factors influencing choice of source – including the more “traditional” ones – were identified as a means of helping to develop truly user-oriented information provision.
Patrick Lo and colleagues undertook a comparative study of school librarians in Hong Kong, Shanghai, South Korea, Taipei and Japan. As the authors point out, school librarians are not just managers of collections and services, but have the potential to be so much more, especially when it comes to students’ information literacy (IL) development. However, this new role is not always well understood by school leaders and educators, as evinced by the present study. The paper provides a useful definition of IL at a time when there have been significant changes in the way school students are educated. The move from teacher- to pupil-centred learning offers significant opportunities for librarians. However, the study demonstrates that information specialists will only flourish as part of a well-staffed and organised structure where the senior management understand the nature of IL and the need for meaningful library provision that is fully integrated into the curriculum.
Continuing professional development (CPD) is essential for librarians if they are to remain at the centre of information provision. This is particularly the case in developing countries such as Nigeria. Anasi and Ali consider academic librarians’ views of e-learning and CPD. There is little doubt that using the Internet as a way of improving skills, expertise and knowledge is deemed to be wholly beneficial, but there are challenges in its adoption when infrastructures are less than adequate.
Librarians have always been concerned – some might say obsessed – with their image as an indicator of their standing in society. Has this changed for the better in the new information age? Vassilakaki and Moniarou-Papaconstantinou carried out a systematic review of literature from 2000-2013 to determine how librarians’ image and perceptions of the profession have changed in the new millennium. Sadly, the “old maid” image persists, though a number of positive stereotypes are now developing, not least in children’s literature, which perhaps augurs well for the future. Bruce Massis, in his latest column, argues that the way forward is through marketing that uses the forms and approaches of modern media and the creative industries in particular.
Young then looks at the ways in which people read online as opposed to the printed page. There appears to be little, if any, difference in terms of retention of information and, indeed, comprehension. Nevertheless, there remain negative views of online information provision because of perceived instability – an area where librarians perhaps have a role in the future.
The issue concludes with a paper by Budd and Velasquez that introduces the concept of phenomenology into organizational communication with special reference to libraries. Advice for library managers is given with suggestions for improvement in organisation effectiveness.
David Michael Baker