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Guardian – American reams: why a ‘paperless world’ still hasn’t happened

We have been told the paperless office is coming – for decades. I have seen examples of individual offices in various work places whose occupants contend that, “no paper means I am doing my job efficiently.” Really! I have a 20 year old photo that I refer to, for both a chuckle and to illustrate that I have always been surrounded by piles of paper, stacks of books, and myriad plants – smiling euphorically, no less. Rest assured there was a PC in the photo as well, more than one – I have used more than one at home and at work since they became ubiquitous – so, truth be told (one more time), for many of us (librarians), paper and technology are not mutually exclusive. If you have a collection of first addition books, are you throwing them away – or perhaps – scanning them (I sure am not). I have thousands of books, and have read them all, and continue to buy more regularly – at a used book warehouse. So, there you have my lead-up to the article: In a world seduced by screens, the future of paper might seem uncertain. But many in the industry remain optimistic – after all, you can’t blow your nose on an email. By David J Unger:”…paper has played “an essential role in the development of mankind”. And yet, for decades, civilisation has been trying to develop beyond paper, promoting a paper-free world that will run seamlessly, immaterially on pixels and screens alone. How did paper get here? Where does it go next? For that matter, why is paper – which does its job perfectly well – compelled to keep innovating?..”

  • [I diverge here] And in response to those who keep saying librarians just provide information, and libraries are obsolete, may I say on behalf of my colleagues: we identify and locate information specific to every subject matter you can ever ask about – review, analyze, compile, annotate, catalog and classify, create metadata for and about, thoroughly examine and evaluate the “information,” and from these myriad sources in multiple formats, derive, create and deliver reliable, accurate, detailed, substantive, actionable and wide ranging “knowledge” services to our customers, who include but are not limited to: students of all ages at all levels of education, to teachers, professors, attorneys, judges, doctors, nurses, health professionals, to the public, government and industry employees, to engineers, data and IT professionals, economists, marketing and public affairs professionals [and the list goes on and on] – and we do this responsively, and increasingly, proactively. Stepping off tiny soap box but feeling as if I will be keeping it close by throughout 2018. Read on!

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