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Libraries, Information and Knowledge-Based Society


  • Modern Society: Some Characteristics

In the modern society, the general trend is for organisations and nations to globalise and work in a burden less open manner. Geographic, time and culture barriers are no longer issues of concern. People are in a position to communicate with each other across boundaries. They are able to tap talent, expertise and content from a vast reservoir of resources. In education, variation from previous norm is becoming as something to be consciously planned. In addition to all these developments taking place in consumerisation of goods and services, and changes taking place in social and cultural arena, the modern society has varied needs not the least of which is education. Education helps to mould well-informed, knowledgeable and responsible citizens who will be able to contribute to the progress and advancement of the nation. There is the goal of the economic well being of the society. Certainly, activities towards this end must be sustained by technological developments brought about by research and the enormous amounts of information it makes available to us. In other words, efforts are afoot to evolve into a society, which is modern and which enables us to lead a cultured, prosperous and full life laying emphasis on certain values. It is the collective responsibility of the members of the society to make suitable arrangements for achieving this ideal. Society during the course of its existence founded different institutions. Educational institutions like schools, colleges and universities, research institutions, cultural organisations, institutions for arts and recreation, business and industrial establishments are but a few examples. In fact, of all the institutions founded by the society library and its modern cognates are potent in meeting a variety of needs of different users of modern society.

  • Role of Libraries in Society
“When thinking of libraries people have many different images in front of them. By stepping back from individual cases and examining the context in which library services are provided and the trends which are likely to affect them in future, it is possible to arrive at some conclusions about how libraries’ roles are likely to develop and to start to answer the central question.


The deep transformations that come with the accelerated insertion of artificial intelligence and new Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) in our present society? Is it a question of a new stage in the industrial society or are we entering into a new era? Global village, technotronic era, post-industrial society, information society, or information age, and knowledge society are just a few of the terms that have been coined in an attempt to identify and understand the extent of these changes. But, while the debate proceeds in the theoretical sphere, reality races ahead and communication media select the terms that we have to use. It is the case with the term Information Society. In the present decade, the expression Information Society has without doubt been confirmed as the hegemonic term, not because it necessarily expresses theoretical clarity but rather due to its baptism by official policies of the more developed countries and the fact that it merited a World Summit dedicated in its honour (2003 in Geneva and 2005 in Tunis). However, let us try to understand the concept and its development.

The concept of Information Society emerged during the 1970s and throughout the 1980s and rapidly gained popularity and currency, its proponents ranging from scholars and academic authors to popular writers. Prominent among the first group of writers were Masuda, who in the Japanese context, perceived an eventual transition of the society to the point at which the production of information values became the driving force for the development of the society. The second writer belonging to this group was Tom Stonier, who perceived the dawning of a new age for Western Society. He draws explicit parallels and contrasts between industrial and information societies. Although not very comfortable with the term information society, Daniel Bell did much to sustain it through his work on post-industrial society. Daniel Bell, the classical exponent of post-industrialism, also theorised the Information Society (Bell, 1979).


Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) are seen as the facilitators of change. The current revolution around the importance of information and knowledge is profound. In fact, a new class structure is being created around the wealth of information and knowledge. Nowadays, knowledge has come to be constitutive of the way that we live. 19 Libraries, Information and Knowledge-based Society Historically speaking, it is correct to say, to a greater or lesser extent, knowledge has always followed the development of man and mankind. It has been seen as a kind of measurement to the success and achievements of society or mankind. Nevertheless, no society until the present one has ever been called or referred to as knowledge society. This term developed relatively shortly after the term information society was introduced in the last decades of the 20th century. (Stipanov, 2005). The reason for this might be the technology-related developments which have fundamentally transformed the degree to which knowledge is being integrated into economic activity to the extent that we are witnessing a shift in the very basis of competitive advantage. The expression knowledge society, recognisable more as social project than as sign of times, is not without substance. In 1960s the debate on industrial society raised the question whether there can be considered a paradigm shift towards a knowledge-based society. Some prominent authors already foresaw knowledge as the main indicator in order to displace labour and capital as the main driving forces of capitalistic development. However, the notion Knowledge Society emerged towards the end of the 1990s and is particularly used as an alternative by some in academic circles to the Information Society. UNESCO in particular, has adopted the term knowledge society, or its variant, knowledge societies within its institutional policies. There has been a great deal of reflection on the issue, which strives to incorporate a more integral conception that is not only related to the economic dimension. For instance, Dr. A.W. Khan, Former Assistant Director General of Communication and Information, UNESCO writes: 
“Information Society is the building block for Knowledge Societies, whereas I see the concept of Information Society as linked to the idea of technological innovation, the concept of Knowledge Societies includes a dimension of social, cultural, economical, political and institutional transformation, and a more pluralistic and developmental perspective…. The concept of knowledge societies is preferable to that of Information Society because it better captures the complexity and dynamism of the changes taking place…. The knowledge in question is important not only for economic growth but also for empowering and developing all sectors of society.” (Sally, 2005) “Today on the political level and also in many scientific disciplines, the assumption that we are already living in a knowledge-based society … the vision of a knowledge-based society determines at least the perception of the Western Societies” 

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