Postmodern thinking is dead, or at least dying a slow death. Hopefully, this is not simply wishful thinking. I am making an assumption: truth does not change. I do not believe truth is different for different people. Mathematical truth remains constant no matter who the mathematician is. Physical, biological and chemical sciences demand truth be constant otherwise the theories and laws turn into mush and nothing is predictable. Can you image living in a world where the laws of nature do not apply? Truth is essential in a court of law, otherwise the courts cannot be trusted. People must adhere to the laws of the road or people die. Why should truth be suspended when it comes to adding content to the Internet? Yes, the Internet is changing the way people think. But, remember, the Internet has really only been around for the last dozen years. It's in its infancy. As I, and many others, have already noted, the Internet is changing the way we communicate. It should not change the way we think.
Rick Anderson, in his article "Away from the 'icebergs'", suggests three traditional Librarian attitudes which need to change in order for Libraries to progress and continue existing. His first "iceberg" is the "just-in-case collection" where Libraries must release the idea of collecting in the traditional sense, with books and magazines and other print sources and embrace "digital collections." The assumption is patron's are going to "expect access to everything." "You think they can't have everything? Think again."
There is a difference between "needs" and "wants" or "desires." There is a difference between "fairness" and "justice." There is a difference between "absolute" and "relative." Don't mix up the meanings of these words. Don't replace one for the other. If you replace the definition of "justice" with that of "fairness" you will be sorely disappointed in much of life. People may want access to everything but they are physically, emotionally and intellectually incapable of assimilating that much information. It would just confuse them. Do they need information to help them make a decision? Do they need data to verify their hypothesis and conclusions, or to challenge others hypothesis and conclusions? The Library cannot be all things to all people. We must define our existence, and what we can offer, in a way to reasonably help people achieve their reasonable goals. If they have turned truth upside down, they are expecting to find something which does not exist, then there is no way a library can help them.
A combination of post-modern thinking and the ability to add unregulated content to a world-wide mishmash of data does not build trust. Don't trust something which is untrustworthy. You will be hurt. In the 1800's the Federal Government started the Depository program sending physical materials to areas so people could have access to trustworthy materials. The in-print materials, verified, reviewed, guaranteed the authenticity of the words recorded. Try taking a computer printout of the Federal Laws into a Court of Law and using it as a legitimate legal authority. The Judge will laugh you out of the Court Room. It's too easy to change words in, or counterfeit, a document rendering the copy of that document worthless. Libraries must become a means of authenticating the mishmash of ideas, reasonable and far-fetched found on the Internet. Here is the direction libraries must go to maintain their relevancy.
To Be Continued...