Same As It Ever Was?

I’m using a recent paper by John M. Budd [PDF] in a paper but this part, which struck me as notable, isn’t relevant to my topic, so I’m posting it here instead:

When the roles of colleges’ and universities’ libraries are discussed, one word tends to recur—transition. There has scarcely been a time since the middle of the twentieth century, though, when libraries have not been in transition.

To some extent, I agree.  I try to rein in my natural affinity for the Latest Thing, to be cautious not to overstate things, because history is full of people who believed they lived in an age without precedent but who now seem quaint and naive (sidenote: the example I intended to link to apparently is mythical).  So yes, libraries, like all things, have always been in transistion.  I would argue, though, that the current era of transition is different in scope if not in kind from those of the past–it’s the pace of change (already faster than ever before and continuing to accelerate exponentially) that sets this time apart.

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