The future, as seen in 1964

Barbara Ruth Fuessli Kyle wrote Librarianship  in 1964; it was published by The English Universities Press Ltd as part of the Teach Yourself  series.

Chapter Six looks at ‘The Future and the Past.’ The opening paragraph is very interesting:-

‘The state of far from static. It has in fact never been more dynamic, and much of what I have written may well be out of date before it is published.’

Written in the mid-60s; but it could have been written yesterday. It begs the question as to whether librarians really were the out-of-touch change resistant folks we are so often led to believe. If librarianship did become so rigid, what happened between 1964 and, say, the 90s?

The vision of the future is interesting too. TV/Telex used to transfer resources from a central store to local service points. Human-machine mediated request analysis and support.

Behind all this? ‘the active liberation and circulation of information as the intellectual life-blood of the country.’ Library 2.0 avant la lettre? There is no hint of user involvement, it’s true, but there is the commitment to making information free.

Finally, on what librarians can do and become, Barbara said that if they work with (what we would now call) IT experts, linguists and classification experts, the change in librarianship could ‘only be guessed at, and not even guessed at by those who still think in terms of the librarian as a crusty custodian.’ The kind of thing people say now in books on CPD for librarians.

Read something old today 😉

Edit- just found a contemporary review of the book in a scanned copy of the Private Libraries Association Newsletter- go here. They didn’t like it, particularly bemoaning its coverage of the inadequate DDC; they’d rather have seen an ‘analytico-synthetic’ clasification covered (Colon? Bliss? they do not say). Oh, and more of a nod to D. J. Foskett. The past really is another country…


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