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Waiting for the barbarians: seeking solutions or awaiting answers?

Law, Derek (2010) Waiting for the barbarians: seeking solutions or awaiting answers? In: Envisioning Future Academic Library Services: Initiatives, Ideas and Challenges. Facet, London. ISBN 1856046915

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Abstract

Cavafy's (1961) famous poem describes the paralysis induced when waiting for an event that never happens, finding distraction in other things while expecting imminent cataclysm. Libraries have perhaps been guilty of this in recent years, joining the chorus bemoaning the imminent arrival of the digital barbarians and undertaking a whole series of avoidance tactics which make libraries ever more efficient but ever less relevant. Like Cavafy's senators, libraries have prepared themselves, decked themselves in finery but have waited for the future to come to them rather than gone out to engage with it.