Law, College of


Date of this Version



AALL Spectrum ■ Sept/Oct 2013, pp 37-38, 41.


© 2013 Richard Leiter


During the past 30 years, computers and other digital tools have evolved from scientific curiosities that promised to make our lives easy and paperless and threatened to make libraries go away to ubiquitous means of communication, research, entertainment, news, and much, much more. Access to technology for librarians today is as critical as having access to leather-bound books once was for the earliest librarians. In order to communicate with peers, patrons, and colleagues and to conduct legal research and create scholarship, today we need a device that lets us “see” the communication or information. This article explores the changing role of technology in libraries during the past three decades and argues that digital technology, including computing, at one time a “special interest” and avocation of professionals and the hobbyists among us, is no longer either; rather, it has become an integral part of our profession. Furthermore, as we maintain our expertise in the more traditionally required skills—in the use, maintenance, and preservation of books, fiche, and other print material—we must simultaneously develop the same level of expertise in these new digital tools. We then must capture the advantages offered by the tools and translate those advantages for the benefit of our patrons if we are to serve them effectively.