Magazine article American Libraries

Coping with Convergence: Technological Progress Brings Loss and Possibilities

Magazine article American Libraries

Coping with Convergence: Technological Progress Brings Loss and Possibilities

Article excerpt

Two pieces of sad news reached me in the last few days. First was the passing of Betty Angelino, who for many years ran the public library in my hometown of Oneida, New York. She led a remarkable life: first woman editor of the Daily Orange, the student newspaper at Syracuse University, our joint alma mater; a career with the Wall Street Journal, including a stint in Italy; followed by many years of community and library work.

I learned a lot from Betty, who hired my mother and who knew how to keep the board and the public happy while running a pretty darned good library. We also shared a certain geological filing system on our respective desks, neither of which my mom appreciated.

Then we learned that the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, in print since 1863, won't be any more. The Hearst Corporation, after failing to find a buyer, has switched it to a web-only entity. We're not alone in this; in February, the Rocky Mountain News went belly-up, and who knows how many others might be gone by the time you read this.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

There are some curious convergences here. I found out about Betty from an old high school friend who just found me on Facebook, and that was just days after hearing that social networking and blogs had overtaken personal e-mail in popularity, accounting for one in every 11 minutes spent online, according to Nielsen. The last printed P-I was March 17, 14 years to the day since the Internet Public Library opened.

The "new" P-I is going to be something of an experiment, not just a continuation of the newspaper's existing website, although it is keeping the same URL--and the same building, for that matter--but with a staff of 20 rather than 150. Those remaining staffers, augmented by some local notables as columnists, will now do everything. They won't have specific responsibilities; everyone will write, take pictures, do design, and so on. …

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