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18-Jan-2009

Understanding how libraries (and librarians) can survive in the new media ecosystem

Just came across PowerPoint Presentation of Lee Rainie, Director, Pew Internet & American Life Project. The presentation is on How libraries can survive in the new media ecosystem. I am trying to understand the message conveyed by this presentation. It is about "how people's use of the internet and cell phones has fundamentally changed the 'information ecosystem' in 10 ways". Information in this age is Abundant, Cheap, Personally Oriented and Designed for participation. According to Lee, 'information ecosystem' is changing in the following manner:

- Volume of information grows

- Variety of information and sources of information grow

- Velocity of information increases and smart mobs emerge

- Venues of intersecting with information and people multiply and the availability of information expands.

- People’s vigilance for information changes. Attention is 'truncated' and 'elongated'.

- The vibrance and immersive qualities of media environments makes them more compelling places to hang out and interact.

- Valence (relevance) of information improves – search and customization get better

- The voice of information democratizes and the visibility of new creators is enhanced.

- Voting on and ventilating about information proliferates as tagging, rating, and commenting occurs and collective intelligence asserts itself

- Social networks become more vivid and meaningful.

So what can Libraries and Librarians do in such an 'information ecosystem'? Well, they have been advised to take following actions:

-Be findable and available

-Think of yourself as a news node for information and interaction.

-Think of yourself as a social network node for people looking for 'friendsters'

-Think of yourself as an information hub -- an aggregator and a linker to others who have useful, interesting material

-Experiment with Web 2.0 applications

-Offer your good offices to help people master new literacies - Graphic; Navigation; Context; Focus; Skepticism; Ethical and Personal literacies.

The new information ecosystem and required actions for being relevant in this new ecosystem has been well explained by Lee. However, I am trying to understand how the ideas expressed by Lee Rainie correlate to the theory and philosophy of Library and Information Science. Changes in 'information ecosystem' is consistent with Ranganathan's Fifth Law - Library is a Growing Organism. The Library (system) being an Organism, grows and thus get more and more differentiated. It evolves like any other living organism on earth in response to changes in ecosystem. Most 'actions' suggested by Lee are consistent with Forth Law - Save the Time of The Reader. Well, I am not able to fit the concept of 'social networking' on Internet in terms of philosophy of library science. Perhaps, someone from you can help me.

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