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Give Me Documents or Give Me Death: A Millenial Meditation on Documents and Libraries

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Title: Give Me Documents or Give Me Death: A Millenial Meditation on Documents and Libraries
Author(s): Levy, David M.
Subject(s): Documents Universal library Order
Abstract: Who can doubt that these are exciting times, pregnant with possibility? Current technological developments, such as the World Wide Web, seem to promise new and more engaging ways of learning, access to great storehouses of knowledge, and breakthroughs in science and scholarship. Yet at the same time, it is hard not to notice the undercurrent of anxiety that accompanies the current excitement. Many are confused about the changes now underway, unclear about how broad or deep they will be, and how exactly they will affect us. What will happen to the library, to the book, to publishing as we now know it, to education? These can seem like big abstract questions, but they have a highly personal component. For what is also being asked is, what does all this mean for me—for my livelihood, my family, my children, for my sense of order, well-being, and meaning? What is happening, I believe, is that current technological and institutional changes are challenging our sense of order—our sense of living in a carefully regulated, secure, and ultimately meaningful universe. When this sense of order is challenged, we become anxious. Why? The answer seems obvious enough. When our world becomes unstable, we worry about losing our jobs, our professional standing, our income, and all the physical, psychological, and social comforts that come with these. While this is clear enough, there may also be a deeper source for the current anxiety— an existential source—which underlies all the very real concerns about livelihood and status: namely, the fear of death. On the face of it, death hardly seems like a fitting subject for a workshop sponsored by the Graduate School of Library and Information Science. What does death have to do with digital libraries? A great deal, as I hope to show, for documents are intimately and essentially concerned with making order in the world, and order-making is a response to the fact of death.
Issue Date: 2000
Publisher: Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Citation Info: Levy, D. (2000) Give Me Documents or Give Me Death: A Millenial Meditation on Documents and Libraries. In S. Harum and M. Twidale (eds) Successes & Failures of Digital Libraries: [papers presented at the 1998 Clinic on Library Applications of Data Processing, March 22-24, 1998]
Series/Report: Successes & Failures of Digital Libraries: [papers presented at the 1998 Clinic on Library Applications of Data Processing, March 22-24, 1998]
Genre: Conference Paper / Presentation
Type: Text
Language: English
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/25540
ISBN: 0878451072
ISSN: 0069-4789
Publication Status: published or submitted for publication
Date Available in IDEALS: 2011-06-27
 

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