Bruce Pomerantz: Find the balance between an open floodgate and a gatekeeper

When I attended library school and the first twenty years of my career through the early 1990s, I adhered to the principle–as did my colleagues–of providing resources to a library user and let the individual decide which materials were best suited for the intended purpose. I did not and would not indicate which materials were best or prioritize them in any way. During that interim, the amount of information I could provide was finite.  More than likely, the information in all of the resources I provided had been vetted by the publisher and then reviewers.  I could be assured of the validity of the information I provided, no matter which resource the individual chose.

Now, with the World Wide Web, I can assist an individual by accessing any number of online catalogs and almost an infinity of additional resources which have been vetted in varying degrees from maximum to not at all. I have the extreme options of acting as an open flood gate that overwhelms an individual with materials or a gate keeper who, perhaps inadvertently, withholds information the individual could use. How do I balance these two functions?

Bruce Pomerantz
Minnesota State Library Agency

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