This is the conclusion to a text outlining an idea for a “next generation” library catalog. In two sentences, this catalog is not really an catalog at all but more like a tool designed to make it easier for students to learn, teachers to instruct, and scholars to do research. It provides its intended audience with a more effective means for finding and using data and information.
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This is a very exciting time in Library Land. Never before has there been so much accessible content. Never before has there been so much computing power available at such low costs. Never before has there been such an overwhelming need from people for data and information. As long as the library profession does not limit itself to thinking about books, then what more could a librarian ask for?
The “next generation” library catalog is intended to be an evolutionary development. It is expected to build on the work already done by the library community, supplemented by the expertise of computer scientists, and driven by the expressed needs of library users. Libraries have often been described as the heart of colleges and universities. This was true because they contained the majority of the data and information needed to do learning, teaching, and scholarship. With the advent of globally networked computers used to create information “born digital” there has been a shift away from books towards smaller bits of electronic information. The “next generation” library catalog is a tool designed to fit into this shifting environment and move librarianship into a more active role when it comes to increasing the sphere of knowledge.