Small Demons has created something they call Storyverse.  See

As they describe it:

It all begins here. Suppose someone took every meaningful detail from all the books you love. Every song mentioned, every person, every food or place or movie title. And what if they did that for all the books everyone else loves, too. The ones you’ve never heard of. Suddenly you’ve got a whole world of seemingly random people, places and things, all gathered in one place.

Together they create something vast, wonderful and entirely new. A Storyverse. A place where details touch, overlap and lead you further. To new music to listen to. New movies to watch. Places to visit. People to know. And of course, new books to read. Getting started is simple. Just choose a book. See where it takes you.

It would seem to be part of two developments coming on fast that libraries need to face more than they have.  These developments are very positive for librarians who can add new services to their patrons.

The two trends:

  1. The value and increasing use of meta-data about books.  Small Demons is an example as is the Library Cloud project out of Harvard.
  2. Mashups (aka curation of a sort) of materials that are born digital.  In the past, reference librarians could pull together a good bibliography of printed books on a subject.  In the future, librarians will be able to create one “document” that combines parts of many others and bring together the relevant knowledge on a subject.

I’m not sure that either trend will play out the way I describe, but I do think these trends will come about somehow.

As many people have said, the 21st century will be the age of knowledge (by comparison with the previous age of industry).  In a knowledge age, libraries are bound to be an essential, perhaps, central institution – if librarians provide the services that are appropriate to the challenge and if they get the funding that is needed to do so.

© 2012 Norman Jacknis