Dr. Barbara B. Moran, Louis Round Wilson Distinguished Professor at the UNC at Chapel Hill School of Information and Library Science (SILS), participated in a panel discussion about the role of technology in the future of libraries on WUNC 91.5 National Public Radio’s broadcast, “The State of Things.” Moran and three other library, architectural and media professionals including: Susan Nutter, the vice provost and director of libraries at N.C. State; Clymer Cease, the managing principal at the architecture firm Pearce, Brinkley, Cease and Lee who created the Hunt Library design; and Ken Hillis, professor and assistant department chair of Communication Studies made up the program’s guest panel for a discussion titled “What Is A Library In Today’s High Tech Age?”
The Hunt Library at North Carolina State University brings us one step closer to the sci-fi fantasy presented in the cartoon, ‘The Jetsons.’ At the Hunt, robots fetch the books,” according to the NPR Web site.” “Two million volumes are folded into one-ninth of the space they would have taken up in a conventional library because room for humans to walk through the aisles is unnecessary. What is a library, then, if you’re not surrounded by books? What have libraries been? And what does the Hunt suggest that libraries can be?”
“The State of Things” host, Frank Stasio, moderated the panel who spoke about the new Hunt Library at North Carolina State University, the Library of Alexandria, and other historical libraries.
New technologies have provided new ways of finding books of interest, conducting research and even physically pulling books off of shelves. In the program, Moran addressed how this technology will affect librarians and traditional library processes.
“If anything, librarians are more needed now than ever before,” said Moran. “There is just such a circuit of information available and I think the librarian does what the librarians have always done. They collect the information, they organize the information, they preserve the information and then they provide access to the information, and that’s so important, not just in academic and scholarly libraries but in public libraries.”
Moran also discussed how technology has impacted information and library science curriculums as SILS continues to educate students to enter the field.
“Our field has just really been revolutionized,” Moran said. “Our students still learn to do the things that librarians always did—how to organize the information, how to connect the user to information—but in addition they come out with a whole wealth of knowledge of all the technology that’s going to be used in the library and how to use that technology as a tool to provide better library service because that is really what we’re looking for. We’re trying to provide the best services to the user, regardless of the tool, and if it’s technology, if it’s in an electronic format, often times that’s a better way of providing it to a user.”
The full program can be heard at http://wunc.org/post/what-library-today-s-high-tech-age.