Libraries as media: Redefining a library in the digital age
[This paper was in the Paris Satelitte Meeting program but the event has to be cancelled]
With the recent advances in digital technology, the nature of libraries has changed dramatically. As more information has become available to the public through a wide range of media, the traditional concept of the library is being redefined. The library has long since ceased to be a mere repository or search tool for physical collections; instead, it now houses content using the most advanced technologies, including digital collections, social media, and multimedia resources. Consequently, librarians must redefine their profession and must demonstrate the ability to embrace change. In this paper we attempt to employ Marshall McLuhan’s notions of a “global village” and the “medium is the message” to appraise how modern libraries function as media in the digital era. As one of the re-emerging media theorists in the millennial decade, McLuhan predicted an upheaval in society based on changes in communication technology as early as the 1960s. The development of the Internet and the World Wide Web made McLuhan’s ideas an instant reality in the 21st century. This paper discusses a few prominent examples that illustrate the concept of “library as media” including 1) digital library collections (e.g., Digital Public Library of America); 2) social media as information sources (e.g., authors’ recent empirical research on this topic); and 3) social media as library marketing tools. We also will explore the unique features of digital media created in a library setting compared to those produced by the traditional mass media industry.