Stephen Downes said [OLDaily, December 23, 2005] "Librarians and libraries will play a key role in e-learning". I would argue that opportunities of librarians and libraries to play a very significant role in e-learning existed almost from day one. Back in the early days when IEEE was embarking on its journey to produce standards for learning technologies, Frank Farance was defending his definition and described that learning objects as the result of the association of learning assets (reusable learning resources) with LOM (learning object metadata). [What is a learning object, technically?] The notion of metadata is very much from library science (may be "reinvented" by those uninitiated IT partitioners).
While comparing Circulating Libraries and Video Rental Stores, Richard Roehl and Hal R. Varian looked at the history of libraries circa 1725-1850 which, according to them, were not much different from Video Rental Stores, including the role of erotic content in fueling their growth. Obviously, since then, the role the libraries have evolved to become, as Les Gasser, Associate Professor for Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign,
what he would dub the ‘b-model': a box of books, an institution that organizes and stores information as a free service to the community and as a cost effective way to promote knowledge in society, [reference]
It is interesting to note that after acquiring the rew role,
there's pressure to maintain this box of books status quo, and deep historical conflicts to keep “low culture” from invading the institution through battles against adding fiction, paperbacks, children's picturebooks, A/V media, and toys to collections.[reference ditto]
As libraries continue to evolve and find their new roles in the new digital era, a recent report from the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) as summarised by Stephen Downes:
recommends that librarians take the lead in the consolidation of Learning Object Repository management and licensing practices, in order to bring an orderly approach to management and use of shared instructional across Canada.
Comparing this with the conclusion from the Gaming, Learning, and Libraries Symposium, as written by in the Event Wrap up that suggests libraries should embrace
beyond simply adding console titles, gaming magazines, and strategy guides to public collections – though all were suggested practices – and into ways gaming might be strategically positioned to bridge the divide between traditionalist views of the institution as a stolid information repository and of libraries as modern civic centers.
This begs the question: "Will there be a role of libraries, or content repositories in today's digital era? If yes, what it would be?"
I am not convinced that libraries, at least in their current form, would survive as "front-people for publishers' licenses and access restrictions." [Stephen Downes]
What about the k-model as suggested by Gasser:
with libraries functioning as a community intelligence center, a “university for the people,” through active promotions of resources and knowledge. Under this model, libraries can play a central role in introducing innovation to society, assimmilating the new, and exploring and making sense of the cutting edge.
Well, what do you think?