I had the opportunity to be interviewed by Mr. Murphy way back in 1995 when the future of libraries, seemingly overwhelmed in the coming age of the Internet, was often questioned.
- Could they stay relevant in the age of the Information Highway?
- Would they wither way and leave half-empty buildings behind, even disappear?
- Could they transition to Virtual Libraries - Libraries Without Walls - Electronic Libraries - Digital Libraries, whatever they might be called in the 21st century?
Of course, Rex Murphy is a skilled interviewer and put me on the spot more than once. But after re-listening to my spontaneous responses in support of libraries as brick and concrete community resource spaces and accessible places where people and students could find mediators to help locate information, I think most of what I said remains valid twenty years on. The printed book is still with us as a staple in the library along with other media formats. But e-books are great too and they are a lot easier to use now. There are lots of non-print materials in libraries.
The issues about of how libraries have been transformed from storage cites to information providers have been raised and debated many times since the early 1990s. In fact, this question dates to the use of computers in libraries beginning in the 1960s. Now, the prospects for the 21st century 'library' -- Library 2.0 - are front and center. But, users are still the focus: libraries change in relation to user needs and demands and how 'publishers' and the 'public' create content in a multiplicity of ways. There are many types of publishers and many types of public. There are many varieties of libraries, too.
My interview with Mr. Murphy was recorded more than twenty years ago as a .wav file, so click this link and turn up your audio volume if you are interested in going back to 1995.