role of the library

'Assume that discovery happens elsewhere, and focus on fulfilment'

An observatory, and lots of pretty stars I came across the phrase in the title when browsing through Tony Hirst’s review of the Arcadia project from a couple of years back. (You can read the review here, in PDF format. The Arcadia Project is a programme looking at the role of the academic library in the digital age – you can read more about Arcadia here.)

The sentiment is one every right-thinking information professional will now be familiar with, but I’ve never seen it encapsulated quite so perfectly. It is an eloquent riposte to those who believe we should still be clinging on to an anti-Google or anti-Wikipedia stance, rather than embracing as ‘let us help you with that’ mentality.

In fact, I think you could adapt it to ‘Assume that discovery happens everywhere, and focus on fulfilment’ and you have a mantra for all of libraries going forward, a subtle repositioning to better deal with all the “asynchronous and asymmetrical threats” (Stephen Abram) we face in the modern age. We are the service, rather than the container.

- thewikiman