Monday, November 17, 2008

Libraries are still a critical resource

I just read this in the new issue of the November ASEE Prism magazine, p. 10.

Lyle D. Feisel, Dean Emeritus, Thomas J. Watson School of Engineering and Applied Science, State University of New York at Binghamton, former president of ASEE wrote:
"Library Still a Critical Resource"
(ASEE members will need to login with your ID/password combo.)

"As usual, Henry Petroski provides serious food for thought, this time in his article expressing concern about the passage of the print library. As one who has long enjoyed the pleasures of unexpected discoveries while wandering the stacks of a great – or even a minor – library, I share his concern. It is not clear to me, however, that this will significantly change the nature of scholarship or of engineering problem solving."

[A buncho stuff deleted so I don't get trouble with the copyright police...]

"While that means they must give up some space, I’m sure they will continue to be a critical resource for engineers and the rest of the campus community, aided now by the increasingly ubiquitous computer."
For the most part, I think it is a good article, but he ignores the librarians who work in that space. Access to electronic resources is not provided in a vacuum. We figure out what books, journals, ejournals, databases, publishers, platforms, vendors and other resources are available with the money that is provided. We teach the students (and faculty) how to find, use and evaluate all of that data and information. In short, it is the people (librarians) who help the students and faculty turn all that stuff into knowledge.

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