Wow, this sounds familiar.
The Chronicle of Higher Education’s article, Death by Irony: How Librarians Killed the Academic Library, reads like many of the articles I’ve read about the demise of the American newspaper:
On its deathbed, it could be heard mumbling curses against Google ….. At the same time, the death … is being hailed by many as progress and the logical next step in the evolution of information…. In summary, it is entirely possible that the life of the academic library could have been spared if the last generation of librarians had spent more time plotting a realistic path to the future and less time chasing outdated trends while mindlessly spouting mantras like “There will always be books and libraries” …..
The guilty ones in this case? Those who helped usher in the technology that made them obsolete. Alfred University librarian Brian T. Sullivan decrees:
Librarians planted the seeds of their own destruction and are responsible for their own downfall.
The article’s main points are pretty blunt — but be sure to read the article for the ample details.
Why libraries apparently died:
1. Book collections became obsolete.
2. Library instruction was no longer necessary.
3. Information literacy was fully integrated into the curriculum.
4. Libraries and librarians were subsumed by information-technology departments.
5. Reference services disappeared.
6. Economics trumped quality.
On a side note, as a master’s student in London, I found that the school’s librarians were helpful with an initial query, but the turnaround time was a bit long, and follow-up consultations were tough to schedule. So I ended up fumbling around and eventually finding most of my own research leads. As a result, the librarians just didn’t seem to be the crucial-but-underused resource the article makes them out to be.
That said, I’m not sure whether short-staffing the cause, and I have no idea how my experience compares to those of students here. I’d be curious to hear.