Information Technology in Librarianship: New Critical Approaches

Information Technology in Librarianship: New Critical Approaches

Information Technology in Librarianship: New Critical Approaches

Information Technology in Librarianship: New Critical Approaches

Synopsis

In the last 15 years, the ground - both in terms of technological advance and in the sophistication of analyses of technology - has shifted. At the same time, librarianship as a field has adopted a more skeptical perspective; libraries are feeling market pressure to adopt and use new innovations; and their librarians boast a greater awareness of the socio-cultural, economic, and ethical considerations of information and communications technologies. Within such a context, a fresh and critical analysis of the foundations and applications of technology in librarianship is long overdue.

Excerpt

Fifteen years ago one of us edited the first edition of this volume (Buschman, 1993b), and asked in the title of the introductory chapter, “Why do we need a critical approach to information technology in librarianship?” the answer was that, given the enormous changes to libraries that new information technologies had brought about, “if the profession as a whole … is to make responsible decisions about libraries, if we seek to fill a central role in debate about information policy in our institutions …, if we are to aid and further public and scholarly inquiry, … then we must account for and join that established body of theoretical and critical scholarship which has seriously questioned the role that technology has come to play [and has] challenged [its] role … as a historical phenomenon in relation to work, power, education, and media; and critically examined the relationship of technology and science” (Buschman, 1993c, pp. 1–2). the contention was that to do otherwise would be to ignore a serious, longstanding, relevant, and informative intellectual debate and would be irresponsible. Librarianship needed to deepen its analysis of technology.

What followed in that volume were relatively straightforward introductions to ideas and scholarship on the nonneutrality of technology (Balabanian, 1993; Slaby, 1993), critiques of technology in education (Carbone, 1993) and communications scholarship (Jansen, 1993), and questions about transformations and control of work (Zuboff, 1993). the approach was to ask, What does discipline or field X do in the way of critiques of technology? the library applications of critical approaches in the second half of the book have proven prescient: technology and censorship/monitoring possibilities in . . .

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