Monday, August 07, 2006

Newspaper librarians fight back

The backlash from Kim Fletcher's article in the Media Guardian has started. Katherine Schopflin won "letter of week" in Press Gazette and this reply appeared a week later on the MG letters page:

Guardian Media Pages
Fletcher must move out of Memory Lane
7 August 2006
The Guardian

Kim Fletcher claims he is "eager to avoid meandering down Memory Lane" - a quest made difficult by the fact that he probably lives there permanently. (Letting go of libraries is a sad necessity, July 31).The Guardian library (now the Research and Information Department) cut its last newspaper clipping in 2001 and switched to electronic databases for its archived-newspaper needs - a practice typical at most newspapers.

Since the change, media librarians have not been sitting around with idle scissors in hand, they have adapted and diversified to work within the new technological environment. A typical week in the Guardian Research and Information Department sees "librarians" handling research inquiries from scores of journals, factchecking for subs and desk editors, interrogating specialist databases, writing 300 word factboxes and phoning various organisations compiling primary research.

And how does he think newspapers make it on to an electronic database? That'll be the librarians who put it there. Finally it's worth remembering that when newspapers took the decision to ditch hardcopy cuttings and rely solely on electronic archives it was invariably the journalists who resisted moving forward with the times. Had the journalists got their way I would still be wrapped up in "the important business of filing".

Alan Power, Guardian Research & Information Department

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