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Technology does have its downside, yes, as Cliff Stoll cautions us in his book Silicon snake oil : second thoughts on the information highway, and librarians especially should read his chapter on the future of the library and the myth of free information. But I believe that computers have greatly simplified the search process for librarians, and the Web has simplified it further. However, as Stoll says [5]:

Good research, like good art, good cooking, good teaching, and good whatever, requires patience, creativity, multiple approaches, time and work. Lots of work.

No, computers and the Web will not replace librarians. Our role in information retrieval is to provide that human interface between the information sources and the person seeking information. As always, it requires the knowledge of multiple approaches and sources, and realizing that the role of the librarian is first to learn, and then to teach so that others may learn.


I would like to thank Jean Aroeste, Jeremy Goodman, Eileen Henthorne, Ed Jenkins, Sangeeta Malhota, Toby Paff, Emily Peterson, Scott Sibio, Krzysztof Stanek, my husband Jonathan and my son Carl Holmquist for their comments on one or more of the many versions of this paper. I am especially grateful to Bohdan Paczynski and Jeremiah Ostriker for their contributions, and to Donald Koepp and Nancy Klath for their continuing support.