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February 14, 1997 - Issue Index

Libraries to play key role in age of universal access
(February 14, 1997)

As the electronic age evolves, the future of libraries looks even more promising for expanded services and accessibility, a Harvard librarian said in a talk about the rich history of American libraries.

"The possibilities for the future are great, but so are the dangers. Now is the time for us to strive to transfer from print to electronics the democratic and community values of the library," Kenneth E. Carpenter, assistant director for research resources at Harvard University Libraries, said during a lecture February 6 in the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center.

"Will we all become customers rather than the public, as many of us fear may be the consequence of the electronic revolution? At the same time that we find this fear to be realistic, we note that the electronic revolution may permit us to hold again that ideal of the democratically universal collection, plus democratically universal access to it," Carpenter said.

Libraries will have to expand further to provide informational outlets so people will be able to use and access new electronic enhancements at libraries.

"Our libraries did not begin as a room with books or even in a building," Carpenter said. "They began with sharing." This tradition dates to 1731, when Benjamin Franklin began sharing books with friends, beginning the Library Company of Philadelphia.

Along with Carpenter's talk, Homer Babbidge Library is hosting a photo exhibit of libraries. "Library: the Drama Within" by Diane Asseo Griliches is on display on the first floor of the library through March 14.


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