Identity In A Context

Jasmine Ashton frames a quote about Julie Lynch, an archivist saying:

Due to the nature of her work, Lynch is the human equivalent of a search engine. However, she differs in one key aspect:

“Unlike Google, Lynch delivers more than search results, she provides context. That sepia-tinged photograph of the woman in funny-looking clothes on a funny-looking bicycle actually offers a window into the impact bicycles had on women’s independence. An advertisement touting “can build frame houses” demonstrates construction restrictions following the Great Chicago Fire. Surprisingly, high school yearbooks — the collection features past editions from Lane Tech, Amundsen and Lake View High Schools — serve as more than a cautionary tale in the evolution of hairstyles.”

Despite the increase in technology that makes searching information as easy as tapping a touch screen, this article reiterates the importance of having real people to contextualize these documents. (How Librarians Play an Integral Role When Searching for Historical Documents

Rather than say “contextualize,” I would prefer to say that librarians provide alternative “contexts” for historical documents.

Recognition of a document, or any other subject, takes place in a context. A librarian can offer the user different contexts in which to understand a document.

Doesn’t invalidate the initial context of understanding, simply becomes an alternative one.

Quite different from our search engines, which see only “matches” and no context for those matches.

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