Blockchain, libraries and the data deluge

Publication Date02 Dec 2019
AuthorDonna Ellen Frederick
SubjectLibrary & information science,Librarianship/library management,Library technology,Library & information services
Blockchain, libraries and the
data deluge
Donna Ellen Frederick
In the age of the data deluge,
librarians, researchers and citizens in
general are faced with the problem of
knowing, in an ever-growing glut of
electronic information, what is
trustworthy and believable. We live in
an age of “fake news”, academic fraud,
spin doctoring, “fark”, internet scams
and various other forms of misleading,
deceptive and elusive approaches to
interpreting and presenting information.
While, as librarians, we are aware of a
number of techniques for identifying,
locating and accessing reliable
information, our ability to do this is
often challenged by factors such as
shady information providers becoming
particularly crafty at simulating the
appearance of a reputable source, time
limitations placed on librarians for
thoroughly investigating the origin and
nature of the resources we use and
increasing budget pressures that limit
the ability to purchase or otherwise get
access to all of the best quality
information sources we might require.
At conferences, in online discussions
and in journal literature, there is an
increasing amount of chatter about the
ability of blockchain to address the trust
and reliability issues, which are
increasingly problematic in our current
approaches to information access and
dissemination. This instalment of the
data deluge discusses some of the
literature published over the past three
to four years about the potential and
use of blockchain in environments and
applications such as those used in or by
Much of the literature reviewed for
this column is what might be called grey
literature, opinion pieces and proposals
for how blockchain might be applied. It
is a common topic at conferences for
technology, information and finance
professionals. Governments and other
organizations have commissioned
reports and white papers on it. There are
numerous discussions and descriptions
about how blockchain is currently
implemented, while there seems to be
even more opinion pieces taking a range
of positions about how blockchain is the
new great technological disruptor to
how it is an impractical shiny new toy
that is likely to quickly fall into
obscurity. The fact that it was extremely
easy to find more articles, blog posts
and conference presentations than it
was possible to read in a reasonable
amount of time is evidence that it is a
topic of high interest. Professional
journals for librarians generally cover
the topic, but the relative lack of peer-
reviewed articles specifically published
in library and information science
journals, on the other hand, suggests
that it is not a technology that has been
adopted in a significant way in libraries.
Now seems to be a perfect time for all
librarians to engage with learning more
about blockchain and forming their own
ideas about where and how it may
benefit or otherwise impact on their
VOLUME 36 NUMBER 10 2019
Blockchain, libraries and the data
deluge ....................1
Feature article
Indiegogo and kickstarter: crowd funding
innovative technology and ideas for
Through the looking glass
Technology has all the answers, but we
must start thinking about asking the
right questions .............12
“Through the looking glass:
envisioning new library
technologies” streaming video
services: future of information,
future of libraries – Part 1 .....16
Feature article
Two fast prototypes of web-based
augmented reality enhancement for
books ...................19
Library Link
LIBRARY HITECH NEWS Number 10 2019, pp. 1-7, V
CEmerald Publishing Limited, 0741-9058, DOI 10.1108/LHTN-09-2019-0059 1

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