The Fourth Industrial Revolution

Does It Pose an Existential Threat to Libraries?


Does the Fourth Industrial Revolution pose an existential threat to librarianship? No, it does not. Not any more than any other technological innovation (information systems, personal computers, the Internet, e-readers, Google, Google Scholar) did. However, what is very likely is that the technologies that emerge from this era will slowly (but surely) lead to profound changes in how libraries operate. Those libraries that fail to understand or embrace these technologies may, in fact, be left behind. So, we must, as always, stay abreast of trends in emerging technologies and what the literature (i.e., articles in this journal) propose as ideas for adopting (and adapting) them to better serve our patrons. With this column, my aim is to briefly discuss what the fourth industrial revolution is and its relevance within our profession.

Author Biography

Brady Lund, Emporia State University

Brady Lund is a doctoral student at Emporia State University's School of Library and Information Management, where he studies the intersection of information technology and information science, among other topics.


David Raitt, “The Future of Libraries in the Face of the Internet,” The Electronic Library 12, no. 5 (1994): 275.

Elfreda A. Chatman, “Diffusion Theory: A Review and Test of a Conceptual Model in Information Diffusion,” Journal of the American Society for Information Science 37, No. 6 (1986): 377–86.

Jason Griffey, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in Libraries (Chicago, IL: American Library Association, 2019).

Klaus Schwab, The Fourth Industrial Revolution (New York, NY: Penguin Books, 2017).

Mabel K. Minishi-Majanja and Joseph Kiplang’at, “The Diffusion of Innovations Theory as a Theoretical Framework in Library and Information Science Research,” South African Journal of Libraries and Information Science 71, no. 3 (2005): 211–24.

Thomas Padilla, Responsible Operations: Data Science, Machine Learning, and AI in Libraries (Dublin, OH: OCLC Research, 2019),

How to Cite
Lund, B. (2021). The Fourth Industrial Revolution. Information Technology and Libraries, 40(1).