When does a source hit its geriatric years in the digital age?

I have just finished listening to Schmidmaier’s (2007) podcast on Education for the Library profession in the Digital Age and have also finished reading Herring’s (2007) chapter on Libraries in the twenty-first century: charting new directions in information. Both were read as part of the introduction week for the coursework of ETL401.

I had my highlighter in hand with the podcast transcript; ready to pounce on all the juicy tips and thoughts on librarianship in the digital age we live in as I listened. But instead, the overall picture I was left with from this podcast was the overwhelming thought that 5 years in this digital age can turn a good source into an almost outdated page of words.

For example, notice Schmidmaier’s verb tense in her quote “the modern library is a place where the technologies will need to meld, and it’s not this either/or argument, the internet or the library” (2007, para. 6). From what I have observed and read, the modern library is a place where the technologies do already meld and I feel the argument of the internet or the library is no longer held by those in the profession.

Take another quote, “One of the interesting things that I think is happening is that libraries are beginning to look seriously at their service models and are moving away from the presentation of the catalogue and index as the first thing you see when you come into the library, either physically or electronically” (2007, para. 7). Is this statement, too, outdated during the 5 years that have passed since it was presented? From my experience, libraries have already changed or are in the process of changing their service models, not merely beginning to look seriously at it. How quickly the technologies available to us are changing what is considered the standard, and how quickly the future becomes reality. Does this make all sources from 2007 outdated?

Herring, on the other hand, renewed my confidence in the relevance of “older” sources when talking about technologies. Once I’d highlight key and interesting points in his text, I then re-read it keeping the questions in mind, “Are these points still relevant? Or are they dated like in the Schmidmaier podcast?”

To Herring’s credit, his information is on par with today’s views on technology and teacher librarians’ roles in regard to the internet and technology. He himself points out when sources are outdated and adds suggestions to update the content as seen in his description of the Australian document Learning from the future (ASLA 2003). He states that “while these guidelines encapsulate the role of the teacher librarian to some extent, there is an overlap between the roles of information specialist and information service manager. The guidelines are also rather vague on the use of information services and technologies and there is a total absence of any reference to the internet or the web which makes the guidelines appear dated” (Herring 2007, p.31). Finally, a reference that recognizes the internet as central to the role of teacher librarians, as it is today.

Also, in stark contrast to Schmidmaier’s belated predictions on service models, Herring recognises that “what was once a store of books is now a multi-format information centre with a collection that can be accessed and used from within the school, from home or from anywhere with online access” (Herring 2007, p.35). Herring’s choice of verb tense and conviction of statement here has proven to me that 5 years is not necessarily the geriatric age for a source and these documents can still be considered relevant to studying about teacher librarianship in the digital age.

Australian School Library Association (ASLA) 2003, Learning for the future, 2nd edn, Curriculum Corporation, Carlton, Vic.

Herring, J. (2007). Teacher librarians and the school library. In S. Ferguson (Ed.) Libraries in the twenty-first century : charting new directions in information (pp. 27-42). Wagga Wagga, NSW : Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University.

Schmidmaier, D. (2007, Feb 6). Education for the Library Profession in the Digital Age [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from


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