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Public Libraries as Knowledge Centers August 27, 2006

Posted by sharynheili in Uncategorized.

I’ve been pondering an interesting article that I have been reading from the Scandinavian Public Libaries Quarterly by Kirsten Drotner, “Libary Innovation for the Knowledge Society“.  As we shift from an information society to a knowledge society, librarians must change, redefine professional roles, and develop professional competencies in collaboration with other knowledge partners. 

As the physical library becomes a knowlege center, the librarian in turn becomes a knowledge facilitator, moving around among users offering, as Drotner describes it, “professional experiences and evaluations”.  The librarian becomes the users’ literacy partner in pursuit of life-long learning in a multimodal society.

In Drotner’s words,  “…first that libraries must move from defining their professional role in terms of providers of information literacy on to a role as multimodal knowledge centres encompassing information as well as entertainment, retrieval as well as production. Second, librarians need to redefine their role in the physical library as facilitators of multimodal literacy and do so in close cooperation with other partners advancing civic society”.  Her table below illustrates the changing roles of libraries and librarians as our society has changed.

Library Innovation and Socio-cultural Conditions (Table by Kirsten Drotner) 

Industrial society Information society Knowledge society
Aim of library use Cultural discrimination
(taste)Personal relevance of cultural choice
Universal and free access to
Information literacy
Universal and free use of information and fiction
Multimodal literacy
Definition of library/librarian Cultural custodian
Cultural guide
Information disseminator Knowledge facilitator
Definition of material/content Material entity, physical artifact Non-material process
Effective, reliable information processing
Material artifacts and non-material processes
Information and fiction
Definition of user Receiver of choice
cultural consumer
Information producer and evaluator Knowledge producer, cooperator and cultural citizen

Read Kirstin Drotner’s complete article here




1. Phyllis - August 29, 2006

An article in Library Journal talked about the library’s role in preserving democracy. Michael Baldwin said that “The American public library is the most important invention of our democratic society after the Constitution itself.” The library as Knowledge center partners with its role in preserving democracy. He paraphrases the call of Thomas Paine “Now is the time for all good librarians to come to the aid of their country!” Last may I talked more about this in Something New Every Day

2. Election Season is Here « Something New Every Day - August 29, 2006

[…] Logic dictates that if you want something of value, you have to pay for it.  That’s true whether you are buying or maintaining a car or a knowledge center.  Colorado’s TABOR has shown us how tax limits can devastate a public education system.  Librarians need to be active proponents of responsible public finance, advocating for spending where spending is necessary for the public good. […]

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