When it comes to building digital libraries, most commentators think first of the hardware and software that bind them together. This is a worthy approach, particularly since smart devices that are fully loaded with powerful apps are a crucial sector of the information ecology. As an information professional, the author's perspective is somewhat different. He has always enjoyed helping library patrons use mobile apps and other online databases and tools. They offer this kind of help on a daily basis. But at the same time, he places high value on another killer strategy that remains as powerful as ever, even in the rush and excitement of the digital age: the art of the referral. Many academics claim that during the digital era, effective research projects can be completely self-directed. This is certainly the belief of one of my affiliated faculty members, who prides himself on never having had to cross the threshold of Widener Library as an undergraduate at Harvard College. Librarians perform high-value analytical and social work at the nexus of social evolution and technological change.
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