Paper details

Beyond the Word: The Future of Documents


Lyn Robinson, City University London, United Kingdom

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This keynote presentation considers the evolution of documents, and outlines the ramifications for those of us working the library and information professions (LIS). We will start with some historical predictions for the future of documents, noting that despite the prescient suggestions of electronic representation and wireless transmission, the traditional formats such as books, newspapers and letters were seen as fundamental components in the imagined informational processes of future times. This paper will then move to show that although these well known entities will undoubtedly remain central to 21st century LIS, drivers for change from at least three areas suggests that other types of document are already extant in contemporary practice. Convergence of the GLAM sector (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums), digital scholarly communication and the emergence of immersive texts have each led to new document formats, and a consequent need to expand the ways in which we work with the aspects of the information communication chain. We need to reconsider document authorship, dissemination, organisational processes and policies, description and classification, system architecture, and perhaps most importantly, undertake to understand new information behaviours associated with modern information communication.

Author's professional CV

Lyn Robinson has 25 years experience of working, studying and teaching within the field of Library and Information Science. She is well known as the Director of the Library School at City University London (Twitter), and is the co-author of the best selling student textbook “Introduction to Information Science”. She has written many papers and is a popular speaker at conferences, workshops and seminars. Lyn’s research interests are in information theory, the disciplinary boundaries around LIS, curriculum design, and human information behaviour, especially in novel areas such as cult fandom and coolhunting. Lyn is Assistant Editor for the journal Alexandria, and writes in a personal capacity at She lives in London, and has a personal interest in art, design and digital culture.

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