E-JASL: The Electronic Journal of Academic and Special Librarianship


Date of this Version

Winter 2002

Document Type



Electronic Journal of Academic and Special Librarianship (Winter 2002) 3(1-2).

Plenary session speech given October 9, 2001 at the International Scientific Conference on Library-Information Service, V. Vernadsky National Library of Ukraine, Kiev, Ukraine, held October 9-11, 2001.

Also available at http://southernlibrarianship.icaap.org/content/v03n01/Holbert_g01.htm.


Copyright 2002, the author. Used by permission.


In thinking about technology and libraries, what struck me most is that we are living and experiencing a great turning point in history. "May you live in interesting times" is an ancient Chinese curse. Interesting times indeed, with all their glory, advantages, and pitfalls. We are still in the process of discovering what to do with new technology in the dissemination of information.

With the dawn of the Internet, computer automation, and intricate databases, I feel that, as a librarian, I am at the helm of the true information age. And how interesting to be here at the Vernadsky Library, whose collection includes ancient and rare documents from the beginning of book printing days.

The Internet, like the evolution of the printing press, has changed and will continue to change history. Like the printing press, it’s a new way to disseminate information to larger amounts of people faster than ever before. While new technology is available, new questions arise. How do we fund this new technology? How do we keep up with technology doubling every 18 months? How do we educate our users? So much information is coming so fast that it’s like drinking from a fire hose.

I am not the first to see parallels between the printing press and the Internet. Others have compared the impact of the two, but I would like to highlight some points I see particularly relevant to libraries today: freedom, access, and control.