Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 13, No. 384.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
Date: Tue, 08 Feb 2000 20:43:55 +0000
From: "Theodore F. Brunner" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: 13.0375 CD-ROMs in libraries
On Friday, 04 Feb 2000, Charles Faulhaber wrote:
>CD-ROM disks drive librarians crazy. Large libraries have hundreds if not
>thousands of them. They all have different software and they all must be
>installed. Some can run on networks; some can't. They are _much_ more
>dificult to deal with than printed books for these reasons.....This is a
>and no one is close to solving it.
On February 6, 2000, Leo Robert Klein added:
>I don't really see how libraries will be able to do much since they're
>having enough trouble coming to grips with current technology.
These two comments are an indicator as to how times have changed. In
October of 1991, I attended an Invitational Symposium on Knowledge
Management in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia. The vast majority of the
conference participants were librarians and library administrators; I was
one of a small handful of professors who attended by virtue of the fact
that they had been instrumental in creating large-scale electronic
resources (in my case, the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae data bank,
disseminated on CD ROM).
Throughout the three-day meeting, the librarians kept maintaining the
following: The professors should be allowed to crate their electronic data
banks and CD ROMS, but once they had done their duty, they should, much
like the Moor in Othello, disappear from the scene and let the librarians
take over. Librarians, it was held, are far better equipped to manage
scholarly resources--electronic or otherwise--than professors.
My own response was drawn from Wilhelm Busch--"Vater werden ist nicht
schwer, Vater sein dagegen sehr," i.e.,the difficulties posed by data bank
creation are nothing compared to those inherent in data bank maintenance
and enhancement; keeping scholarly data banks viable in long-range terms
means keeping abreast not only of technological change but also of
scholarly progress, and librarians should not be charged with the former
task and could not be charged with the latter.
My views were deemed to be derogatory of librarians. Librarians, I was
told, most certainly could handle any potential problems arising out of
technological progress, and producing periodic "new and improved editions"
of CD ROMS was, once the original CD ROM was in hand, not really such a big
deal--librarian could handle that also. The latter assertion, in
particular, caused me some concern. In any event, I turned out to be the
bete noir of the conference.
I doubt very much that the Berkeley Springs Symposium participants would
still hold the same views they held in 1991, were they to reconvene in 2000.
Theodore F. Brunner
Professor Emeritus of Classics
28802 Top of the World Drive
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Phone (949) 494-8861
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