When’s this Paradigm Shift Ending?

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2002-07

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Lowry, Charles B., “When’s this Paradigm Shift Ending?” portal: Libraries and the Academy vol. 2, no. 3 (2002): pp. vii-xiii.

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Since 1962, when Thomas S. Kuhn published The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, one of the century's milestone works in the history of philosophy and science, his notion of the paradigm shift has been interpreted broadly as a model, and applied not only to scientific thinking but also to social phenomenon. The term has been applied increasingly and loosely to a transformation of libraries. As a general rubric, this does no great damage, but as a rigorous explanation, it is wide of the mark. It is past time to examine what we mean in using it in this way and begin to assess more thoroughly the pace and meaning of this change. In this brief essay I cannot provide a very thorough examination of the complex transformation, but it is possible to capture the gestalt. The starting point of this discussion is to distinguish between cause and effect and not to make the error of reversing them.

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