Head of School John Palfrey Publishes New Book

Head of School John Palfrey released his new book “BiblioTech: Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of Google” on May 5.

In “BiblioTech,” which examines the integral role of libraries in the digital age, Palfrey discusses how libraries and technology can intersect to create new services and how the two reinforce one another.

“[Libraries] thrive when they are making digital resources available… If you think about the way in which people are using information and creating knowledge, libraries have, as they have always [had], an essential role in that. I just think that it’s changed over time,” said Palfrey.

Palfrey hopes readers of “BiblioTech” will recognize the significance of libraries in the digital age as people continue to access more information from their mobile devices.

“We’re at a next phase in the historical trajectory. It is where the digital era is clearly ascendant and libraries need to figure out their appropriate role in it. I think that if we didn’t have libraries providing public access to information… in academic or public communities, that would be a huge mistake,” said Palfrey.

Palfrey also hopes that, in reading “BiblioTech,” readers will come to appreciate the importance of libraries, especially the potential these libraries have in the digital era.

Regarding the future of libraries, Palfrey hopes that future generations will learn to enjoy libraries as much as previous generations have, even if they are not consulting books as frequently.

“My hopes for libraries are that it becomes possible to pull forward the amazing work of the past, but do it in a highly relevant way for the present and the future… I think that part of it is to decouple the idea of libraries as a place where people come to get books, and to make it about where people experience and create knowledge,” said Palfrey.

In writing “BiblioTech,” Palfrey was largely inspired by the Oliver Wendell Holmes Library (OWHL) and its staff.

“I think we’re incredibly lucky to have [the OWHL]. I cannot imagine another secondary school that has such a library. I think there are really direct benefits for any community that has such a great library,” said Palfrey.

Palfrey’s inspiration for “BiblioTech” was also sparked by his love for libraries in general.

“In large measure, this book is a love letter to libraries and people who work in them, because I think that they play such an essential role in any community. I think it is important for aall of us who are not librarians to support libraries at institutions within our communities,” said Palfrey.