By Ming Tay
Since the development of electronic devices, our lives have changed significantly. We live and breathe technology. Technology today has made it possible for us to read books not only in print, but on electronic devices.
Libraries are working toward giving more people the ability to read books on their electronic devices by turning their books into “soft copies.”
The University of California is currently working on a project to mass digitize its books. UC’s ultimate goal is to convert every printed book in the world into a digital format. UC says digitizing books may help “protect the university from catastrophic loss” if disaster strikes its libraries.
Another digital library, called “Europeana,” is funded by the European Commission and its member states and gives registered users free access to 6 million digital items, including images of paintings, maps and museum objects.
Dr. Jenny Lowery, assistant professor of library services, said the widespread availability of digital information is like a “two-edged sword.” People are not faced with the problem of not having access to information, but they are faced with the problem of selecting what information is the best. There are countless sources of information floating around, but they might not be the most helpful or accurate.
Lowery said the role of the librarian is changing in this digital age. Traditionally, librarians helped people find information, but now they do more evaluating and sorting through information.
The role of the library will also see changes in the near future. Jeannie Byrd, assistant professor of library services, said physical libraries are going to become more service oriented, rather than providers of materials. She said a librarian will play the role of a mentor, guiding and coaching those who need assistance in finding the right and most helpful material for their work.