Questioning technology in the library

As we continually rush to automate, I find myself feeling more and more like an old curmudgeon. Are we   giving up on our fellow humans in favor of machines? Isn’t it better to speak to a person instead of going through an automated menu? I’m constantly going back and forth with my answers to these questions. Back in the 90’s I read an article in “Wired” about the Amish’s view on technology. In contrast to what is commonly thought, the Amish actually do adopt new technology, but not as quickly, and as unquestionably as the population at large. Instead, they formally examine new technology, and decide if it is something truly helpful, and if it gets in the way of the family or not. For instance, a phone is helpful, but it tends to disrupt ‘family time’ too much, at least in their judgement. So, phones are not allowed in the house, but are available for the community.
That article often haunts me as I look at what is happening in the library world today. The article below cites yet another example of this struggle in the library between man and machine. Oh, John Henry!  Where are you now?!


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