Re-Positioning Libraries: A Consideration of the Obstacles

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Editorial feature, “Re-Positioning Libraries: A Consideration of the Obstacles” portal: Libraries and the Academy vol. 3, no.2 (2003): vii-xi.



I consider it a "given" that the contribution of academic and research libraries was a central element in the success of the mission of higher education in the twentieth century. That premise leads to a difficult question—does it matter if libraries continue to be central in the century just beginning? Here I will make a second assumption—that it really does matter a great deal. At the risk of sounding pessimistic, it helps to understand the obstacles to re-positioning libraries successfully so that they may continue their vital contribution of providing access to scholarly information. These are largely beyond our immediate ability to remedy. That does not mean we should not try to understand them and to find the allies who can help us do the work of shaping the future of libraries—and there are many such allies. During the last two years, I have written closely allied pieces that have appeared in these pages exploring several topics that in my view are critical to the question of the future of libraries—on change, on the so-called "paradigm shift" and on intellectual property. In large measure, this essay is a capstone for all of them.


Editorial Feature