Technology and the " New " Library

By: Piedad Ramirez  

There is a growing body of scholars that considers that technology is undermining the commune, that is to say, those public social spaces that serve as platform for our essential need to communicate with each other as social beings (Putnam, 1996). Such observations buttress the contention that, rather than connecting us in a meaningful way, technology isolates us from one another (Stoll, 1995). In this view, virtual social spaces created by communication technologies are just that, virtual, simulated, computer-generated, and they cannot match the community-enhancement attributes of the physical spaces that used to bring us together. The basic premise of this paper is that the active familiarity with a physical place, a space where we interact socially, politically, culturally and economically with others, is a requisite component for a healthy society and an effective polis. I argue that one of the last of these spaces is the public library. In view of research done by academics like Putnam (1996), Stoll (1995) and Koren (2004), and culling research methodology from Powell (1990) and Brodman (1990), I analyze how the library has seen a restructuring of its space, from a place to read or take out books, to a place where a deeper form of social, public interaction takes place. I also review the manner in which libraries have undergone a reorientation of resources towards new environments in order to counteract and even benefit from the transformations occasioned by technology.

Technology, Library, Democracy, Resources, Transformation.
Books and Libraries
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Mrs. Piedad Ramirez

Bilingual Programs Officer, Programs, West Hempstead Public Library, United States
United States