Heading for Extinction?

I’m adding this article by Stephen Abram to my LIS701 syllabus.


Abram offers various scenarios for the future of reference services, including this one:

Status Quo: A Recipe for Fossilization

This is the disaster scenario — at least for our profession. Suppose we don’t evolve fast enough. Most of us know the story of the frog in the boiling water. Will we be blind to the overall changes and allow ad-driven search results to dominate the important question space? Worse still, will we fall into the trap of demanding a Google-like experience? Will there be no event, no transformational experience that shocks us out of complacency? Will we ignore the Web 2.0 opportunity to revitalize distance user relationships? Isn’t every user not in a face-to-face moment with us a distance user? Consider a scenario where we continue to service a shrinking but needy market. I know that they continued to deliver coal, milk, and ice in my neighborhood well into the 1960s. There was a demand and visible proof that it was still needed. Nevertheless, despite visible evidence to the contrary, these services were still heading for extinction.

As David Penniman said, “In order for librarianship to remain what it is, it must change; if it doesn’t change, it cannot remain what it is.”

This and his other scenarios will provide excellent points for discussion. I hope reference classes use this article as well.