Trends, Discovery, and People in the Digital Age

Edited by David Baker and Wendy Evans. Oxford: Chandos Publishing, 2013. 332 pp. $85.00 (Paperback). ISBN 9781843347231.

Trends, Discovery, and People in the Digital Age is the first title in the Chandos Digital Information Review Series; the series reports on key themes, advances and trends in digital information and explores their impacts and possible future developments. The volume is edited by David Baker, Emeritus Professor of Strategic Information Management, St. Mark & St. John University, Plymouth, UK and Wendy Evans, Head of Library, St. Mark & St. John University, Plymouth, UK. The book’s contributors consider issues such as open access, user-centred design, cloud computing, e-books, data curation and resource discovery.

Trends, Discovery, and People in the Digital Age includes 17 stand-alone essays that explore empirical studies and theoretical approaches, as well as provide information about technical advances in the field of digital information. For example, in “Beyond the Google generation: towards community-specific usage patterns of scientific information,” Boukacem-Zeghmouri and Schöpfel examine results of recent studies on information behaviour in academic environments, in conjunction with results from a qualitative survey they administered to scientists from five disciplines. The authors challenge the Google generation (or “digital natives”) explanation of information behaviour and shift focus towards the community as an information ecosystem. In “Surviving or thriving? Building an information landscape,” Richard Otlet critically examines the concept of ‘information literacy’. He considers a number of changes and challenges to our digital information environment, such as the increased fluidity and decentralisation of information, and argues that if we are to thrive in the current information landscape “we need to look harder at information itself and develop a better knowledge of our information worlds as a part of developing our information literacy skills” (73).  And chapters entitled “Free at last,” and “The future of academic libraries in the digital age,” examine the impact of digital information and offer optimistic and compelling arguments for new roles and functions for librarians and other information professionals in the coming years. The future of librarianship and libraries are also considered by Baker and Evans who write in the book’s first chapter that they chose to omit the word ‘library’ from the book’s title since “the thing we call ‘the library’…will be something new and radically different from what has gone before” (2). They suggest that as librarians increasingly move away from acting as intermediaries between content and users, they take on new roles as “content aggregators, access managers and educators in digital literacy” (7). Lastly, for readers who are interested in learning about innovative uses of web-based technology a number of examples are considered including Joanne John and John Dolan’s history of Enquire and Ian Everall and Terrance Fernado’s overview of the Mirrorworld platform development.1

Trends, Discovery, and People in the Digital Age provides an engaging overview of some of the key themes and trends in digital information. While the book claims to cover important contemporary topics and future developments from a global or international perspective, the contributors are based primarily in the UK. Some notable key themes in digital information that are not substantially reported include barriers to internet and broadband access, protection of privacy, censorship and surveillance and net neutrality. This book will be of primary interest to library and information science students and information professionals working in academic or university settings.

Goldwynn Lewis

Ottawa, Canada