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Libraries, Digital Information, and Plato

Peter Young argues in an article in Daedalus that the world is increasingly dependent on digital information technologies to define meaning and provide a contextual framework for our activities and our identities (Young, 103). He contends that we are hurtling toward a postmodern "decentered, fragmented, fluid, opaque, and nonlinear cultural" society, which has destabilized the old print order and consequently the nature of librarianship (Young, 103). This newly networked information world cannot be controlled by traditional librarian methods of organizing and ordering information resources (Young, 103). Rather, this new information technology world is too fluid, volatile, and dynamic for traditional librarian methods. Instead, the librarian must now develop new approaches with network service providers, software designers, and media specialists to learn to understand and order the interactive nature of the digital information/communications processes (Young, 103).

However, Young also points out that the access to information resources now made simple by dynamic and intelligent software "agents" that function as knowledge guides raises the question of the need for librarians in an information age (103). Basically, if commercial online services can provide instantaneous access to an increasingly vast array of global digital information resources capable of being accessed and downloaded by individuals for home use, why would anyone need a library to store the same knowledge (Young, 103)? More significantly, however, why would patrons continue to need librarians to interpret and guide them through collections and library resources when they can access such collections themselves (Young, 103)?

Although the question of why we need libraries and librarians in a digital, interactive, multimedia cyberculture is a regular and appropriate one, the inherent nature of digital and interactive network technologies makes analogies to the traditi...

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Libraries, Digital Information, and Plato. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 13:11, April 21, 2019, from