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Why Libraries [Still] Matter

Why Libraries [Still] Matter – Jonathan Zittrain…”To this day, the Harvard Law School Library, which I direct, claims distinction as the largest academic law library in the world. Volume of volumes was never the whole story, though. Libraries have, over time, inhabited the roles not only of guardians of knowledge, but of curators, and not merely for their owners or immediate communities, but for the world at large. The curatorial role became crucial as the range of possible things to read vastly exceeded the amount of time someone would have to read them — and finding something responsive to one’s query required mastering the baroque art of search. Librarians apprenticed to degrees in information science to know how to find things, and they coupled that skill with a professional commitment to neutrality, or at least absence of bias…libraries — real ones concerned with guarding and curating knowledge — remain crucial to free and open societies, and not simply because their traditional services within academia, from curation to preservation to research, remain in high demand by scholars. More broadly, they crucially complement the Web in its highest aspirations: to provide unfettered access to knowledge, and to link authors and readers in new ways. Here’s why….”

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