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JOHN PALFREY: THOUGHTS ABOUT THE FUTURE OF LIBRARIES AND LEARNING

John Palfrey from Harvard University Law School provided the closing plenary session at this year's SSP Annual Meeting. He noted that from his perch at an educational institution, and from his research of changing pedagogical preferences, there are some major trends everyone involved in academia must react to:

The changes in learning modes and preferences - What we consider "multitasking" is now considered normal mode by students. That is, reading a phone while talking or listening is normal, not unusual. In fact, students don't react to the term "multitasking" as something they do. Also, students now have grown up in a screen-centric and networked culture, so there are new expectations. But print is still desirable for books because of the famous triad - the bed, the bath, and the beach. There are problems emerging with the abundance of available information. The time and effort that must be expended to deal with the flood of information continues to be a worry and a challenge. The worries over misinformation, cheating, hidden influences, and superficiality haunt these users and their parents. Credibility remains a key concern of providers and users...

Changing roles for libraries and librarians - With funding presumed to be flat, and an increasing demand for international and interdisciplinary information, there are real pressures on libraries. Users feel libraries aren't doing enough to connect them to the materials available, especially the digital objects. For libraries designed to be physical spaces for physical objects, rethinking the architecture (in the broadest sense) of the library will be crucial. How much is virtual? How much is physical? To check themselves, the Harvard librarians are asking "WWYD? …

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