Emerging Technologies, Information Provision, and Libraries

Emerging Technologies, Information Provision, and Libraries

Alexious Muunga (Copperbelt University, Zambia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1116-9.ch002

Abstract

The advent of computers and information communication technologies (ICTs) has drastically changed the acquisition, storage, and retrieval of information. Further, information can be accessed through various media as new technologies continue to spring up. Since information can be accessed anywhere as long as one has internet connectivity, this has resulted in many users not using the libraries and other information centers. The decline in the use of libraries is worrying, hence the need to understand how the emerging technologies have changed information provision in the libraries. The chapter addresses challenges that affect the provision of the needed services in the libraries. Finally, alternative services that libraries are adopting in order for them to remain relevant in this information age are outlined. This chapter provides insights on how libraries can continue to play their role as information providers and how they can fit into the present information age.
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Background

The world has gone through three main developmental stages. The first was the agrarian age. Agriculture was the cornerstone of the economy of different countries and communities as much emphasis was placed on producing and maintaining crops and farmlands for the creation of wealth. Implements that helped in making farming faster and more efficient were produced in the 18th and 19th centuries and these led to an Agricultural Revolution as there was great improvement in farming and increased crop productivity. Land owners wielded enormous power during this period.

According to Encyclopedia Britannica (2019), the second phase was the Industrial Revolution when machines were developed and used to produce goods in bulk in the early 18th century and processes that were hitherto performed manually were taken over by machines. Nations and private individuals invested heavily in machines of mass production of goods in order to boost their economy. The Industrial Revolution was a process of change from agrarian and handicraft economy to one dominated by industry and machine manufacturing as people moved from tilling the land to work in industries. Manufacturers were power brokers of the era.

The third stage is the information economy where the dominance of industrial sector of workforce seemingly ended in the 1940s with the rise of service industries. This was followed by a rapid growth in Information Communication Technologies which saw the computers moving from being locked away mainframe to personal desktop and handheld machines/devices available to all and most importantly communicating among themselves. This made information available to all who can access digital devices and the Internet. According to Rouse and Tucci (2014), the undergirding principle of the Information Age is the fact that access to and the control of information is basic for all activities. The information Age is characterized by emphasis on information as a commodity that can change lives, drive economies and that is easily disseminated through technology.

The information age brought with it wide ranging innovations in the information provision field. Information communication technologies (ICT) were birthed. According to Ogar and Tangkat (2018), ICTs are the array of resources and technical tools that are used for creating, connecting, spreading, storing and managing information. Coupled with the growth of Internet, these technologies have made access to information pervasive. It was predicted that the coming on board of ICTs was the death knell for libraries (Staff, 2005). However, libraries had long understood the challenges of ICTs and the Internet and have been proactive in exploring new ways to offer access to information in tandem with emerging technologies of each period in time. Catalogues were networked as collections were digitised. Libraries provided computers and Wifi. Electronic resources and technological devices for reading them were introduced (Wyatt and Leorke, 2018). Wenborn (2018) opines that as technology continues to evolve and become more integrated into the daily activities of living, library operations will also be further affected.

Key Terms in this Chapter

ICTs: Emerging technologies which combine the creation, storage, transmission, and retrieval of electronic information.

Transliteracy: A state of being literate in the digital age. One who can read, write, and converse using ICTs.

Digital Divide: An unequal distribution of ICTs among the rich who can afford and the poor who can’t afford.

Library Operations: Major tasks performed in the library such as acquisition, cataloguing and classification, storage, retrieval, and service provision.

Digital Libraries: Libraries that only provide electronic information such as ‘bookless’ libraries.

Blended Librarian: A 21 st century librarian who works with the users in order to provide the right information to the users. In terms of academic institutions, a librarian is involved in curriculum development, subject specialist, and information literacy provision among others.

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