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Diffuse Libraries: Emergent Roles for the Research Library in the Digital Age

pub108. Diffuse Libraries: Emergent Roles for the Research Library in the Digital Age
Wendy Pradt Lougee

(8/02, 32 pp.) $15 (print)
ISBN 1-887334-93-9

Research libraries are taking on a range of new roles in the digital age as they become more deeply engaged in the creation and dissemination of knowledge. While some of these roles are extensions of traditional library activity, others are largely new. Wendy Lougee, university librarian at the University of Minnesota, explores some of these emerging functions in this report.

Lougee includes several examples of how some libraries and library organizations are forging new services in areas of collection development, information access, and user services; she also touches briefly on the continued importance of library as place. In addition, she suggests where new roles might emerge. In the section on information access, for example, she notes the potential for libraries to contribute to the development of the Semantic Web, which aims to develop languages for expressing information in a form that machines can process, and which therefore can be searched more accurately and efficiently. She writes, “Designing the Semantic Web will require a mix of skills, and librarians have the potential to contribute significantly to this effort.” She also notes that there is a potential role for the library in certifying the authenticity and provenance of content on the Semantic Web.

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