Some More Bibliographic Information

Jeanneney, J.-N. (2007). Google And the Myth of Universal Knowledge: A View From Europe. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Jeanneney’s Google and the Myth of Universal Knowledge: A View From Europe was an interesting read because while it initially comes across as slightly nationalist, I feel that he does raise some very interesting points. Jeanneney is concerned about Google being a single point depositary for information and knowledge, a concern I’ve seen in my other readings. He worries that English will become the default language that items are stored in digitally and that as a result of that, culture will be lost. Reading about this in conjunction with visiting National Libraries was really eye opening because while they are making a point to reserve books that relate to their national heritage, they are also preserving items of cultural significance. It’s really amazing to think about the cultural impact of things like, London Bridge have on people.

It really made me think more about two topics that keep coming up in my studies, the role of the information professional as a knowledge gatekeeper and trying to determine (as Buckland does so many times) what information is. I completely agree that London Bridge is information, but more than that, the impact that London Bridge has because it exists is also information.

Fleet, C. (2012). New Developments in Acessing and Viewing Online Maps at the National Library of Scotland. International Preservation, 13-19.

This article was great to read after Jeanneney’s Myth of Google because it brings up the importance of multiple sources of collection and curating data. In this article Fleet discusses a collaborative effort between the National Library of Scotland, The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, and the National Records of Scotland to create an online portal. This portal uses historical information to display maps similar to those currently used by Google Maps and Yahoo Maps for different periods of time.

It allows for a better user experience and for users to interact with historic geographic maps. The georeferencing of historical maps is HUGE think about it: you’d be able to create a time lapse of a specific street address and see changes to it over years. It allows for “improved retrieval and user interfaces . . . but also better understanding of maps by analyzing their geometrical properties and the ability to compare and overlay with other maps and special data” (Fleet, 2012, p. 15).So this portal allows users to put in an address or location in Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain, and Belgium and see what has been there at different periods of time.

It’s a great combination of collaboration and cultural history that I think would make Jeanneney proud.

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Getting Lost at the British Library

Well, not so much “getting lost” as “buying tickets for the wrong day because in a hurry”. And rushing there (and spending £5 on a taxi) and really just feeling kind of stupid, but it was okay. Partially because they let you do self-guided tours and because that was the only real “bad” thing to happen on my trip. Not to mention I now have a story to tell that I think is hilarious.

I have to admit that I’ve never actually visited The Library of Congress here, but it’s totally on my bucket list but I think that’s the closest we here in America have as far as a national library. It was really interesting to see and compare two different National Libraries (The National Library of Scotland and the British Library). Both are non-lending libraries so you’d think that they’d have similar issues with patronage, but when I was at the British Library it was PACKED. The café and common rooms were full, people were using laptops, looking at materials in the reading room. Granted I was at the British Library on a Thursday in the late afternoon as opposed to early on a Monday morning so I think that likely had a lot to do with the difference. Plus it’s literally right down the street from the King’s Cross Station so I think the proximity to everything helped.

The British Library has a strict no-photos allowed rule so I wasn’t able to take photographs but the collection is breathtaking. Unfortunately I wasn’t as lucky as I was with the National Library of Scotland because I showed myself around but I did read their 2013 – 2014 Annual Report which lists their major goals for 2014 – 2015 and the one I found most interesting is Number 3: Support research communities in key areas for social and economic benefit.

They focused on inspiring and enabling entrepreneurs by focusing on an Entrepreneurship week and holding an Inspiring Entrepreneurs series of events. I think this is extremely important and a great way for libraries that don’t offer lending services to still be involved in the community as a whole.


British Library. (2015). British Library Annual Report and Accounts 2013/14. London: British Library.