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Planning for unreality; the future of documents

Dr Lyn Robinson explains how information professionals must adapt to manage new types of documents.
by John Stevenson


Dr Lyn Robinson, Senior Lecturer in Library and Information Science at City University London, predicts that future documents will be pervasive, participatory and multi-sensory.

As computing technology continues to develop, it will become possible to deliver immersive media, where unreality is perceived as reality, and where the 'reader' can control events.

Dr Robinson believes that understanding the nature of these new immersive documents is key to enabling information professionals to manage them:

"We need to understand how people will use these documents, and the impact that this is likely to have on collections, library services, reading, education, entertainment, the economy and social structure. We need to plan for unreality."

In an article published in Information Today, she further illuminates the future of documents in a digital world:

"Over the past 20 years even the most die-hard traditionalists will have been compelled to accept digital creep, the consequence of the technological developments which have given us e-books, online newspapers, blogs, tweets, e-science, big data, and the paradigm change of digital scholarship."

This so-called digital creep has expanded the reach of information communication management beyond the boundaries of the library and information science sector. With increasing programmes to digitise texts, hybrid and digital libraries are becoming the norm. This outpouring of digital texts and multimedia has brought document handling further into the sphere of the 'GLAM' sector alongside galleries, archives and museums.

These changes to the concept of the document create a need for new policies for regulatory issues and greater understanding of targeting collections to audiences.

As Dr Robinson argues in her article, this means that "modern library and information science courses at all levels require constant updating to equip information professionals with an understanding of contemporary documents and their handling."

She has been Programme Director for City's Library and Information Science courses since 2006. Dr Robinson will be speaking at the annual Internet Librarian International conference on the 21st of October 2014.

Please visit this link for more information on City's master's courses in Library Science and Information Science.

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