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Insights from Marshall Breeding

Navigating the Future of Library Technology

Photo of Marshall Breeding

Softlink Information Centers had the pleasure of hosting a Fireside Chat with Marshall Breeding, a renowned library technology expert, during our Virtual Open Day. The session, expertly hosted by Alyx De La Cruz from our customer care team, offered a deep dive into the evolving landscape of library technology and its implications for special libraries. Here are some key takeaways from their enlightening conversation. 

Evolving Library Technology 

Marshall began by discussing the significant trends in library technology, emphasizing the increasing importance of digital content and electronic resources. He highlighted how the library systems landscape has evolved, with a greater focus on providing seamless access to digital materials. As Breeding noted, “We’re in a time where there’s a lot more emphasis on digital content and electronic resources, though print remains extremely strategic for most libraries.” 

Unique Needs of Special Libraries 

The discussion moved towards the unique needs of special libraries, which serve a diverse range of organizations such as law firms, healthcare institutions, and government agencies. Breeding pointed out that the requirements of these libraries are shaped by the specific information needs of their organizations. He explained, “Special libraries are different… what you do really depends on the information that organization cares about.” 

Changing User Expectations 

Breeding addressed the shift in user expectations towards instant access to digital content, driven by the convenience of modern web technologies and search engines like Google. He noted that users now expect the same ease of access from their libraries. “Users don’t care how difficult it might be for the library to get those materials and make them available. They just want to be able to search, click, and read,” he remarked. 

The Role of AI in Libraries 

One of the most compelling parts of the discussion was the potential impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on library services. Breeding highlighted how generative AI is transforming research, writing, and content management. However, he also acknowledged the ethical and practical challenges it presents. “Generative AI is going to be a given from now on in the information landscape, raising incredible and hard questions about misinformation, bias, and the ethical use of AI-generated content,” he said. 

Balancing Physical and Digital Resources 

Breeding provided food-for-thought into how libraries can balance their investments in physical and digital collections. He emphasized the need to align library efforts with user needs and to utilize technology efficiently. “It’s important to think about what the researchers need and ensure the library’s overall efforts are well aligned between print and digital collections,” he advised. 

Navigating Budget Constraints 

The conversation also touched on the challenge of working with budget constraints while expanding digital collections. Breeding recommended leveraging cost-effective technologies and thinking creatively about digitization processes. He observed, “It’s important to take advantage of technologies that are less expensive and to think strategically about how to efficiently manage the complex array of print, digital, and electronic resources.” 

Marshall Breeding’s session was a highlight of our Virtual Open Day, offering invaluable thoughts into the future of library technology. Alyx’s adept interviewing brought out the best in the conversation, making it an engaging and informative experience for all attendees. As we continue to navigate the rapidly changing landscape of information management, the perspectives shared by Breeding will undoubtedly serve as a roadmap for libraries looking to stay ahead. 

We are grateful to Marshall Breeding for sharing his expertise and to Alyx for facilitating such a thought-provoking discussion. For those who missed the session or wish to revisit it, you can request a recording via our website. Stay tuned for more updates from Softlink Information Centers as we continue to explore the future of technology in libraries, archives and information centers.