GRE Reading Comprehension
"A LIBRARY IS A GROWING ORGANISM," S.R. Ranganathan asserts in his Fifth, and final, Law of Library Science. In this, he allows (and even calls) for the library to adapt to the educational and knowledge demands of the society within which it exists. In a slightly tongue-in-cheek moment, he suggests that perhaps we shall eventually exchange knowledge by thought alone, like the utopia in H.G. Wells' Men Like Gods, but he continues to a more realistic supposition in which he suggests that knowledge may someday be spread by means beyond the printed page. In our contemporary world, we can see this as the revolutionary influence that the digital age has brought to the library world. Indeed, establishing the role of the library in the digital age is arguably the greatest challenge the modern librarian faces. Librarians are, by traditional image, a people resistant to change, and there persists an ongoing fear that innovations such as the Internet could render the old-fashioned library obsolete.
Ranganathan's response to this, however, might have been "and well it should!" - his focus of the library was on its place as a central hub of learning, not as an archive of textual artifacts. He saw no concern for the library in moving beyond the book, and this trend is visible in our own field as we begin to redefine our roles. To him, the dichotomy of internet versus library would itself be the crisis; librarians should not be asking how they can adapt to the digital age, with its new challenges and demands, nor should they be worrying about the development of information storage systems beyond "their" realm of the book and physical library. Rather, they must concern themselves with how they, as educators and providers of information, can help to develop the future of information dissemination. That the library world must even be concerned with how to respond to the Internet as an information source is an indication that it has been failing in Ranganathan's call -- the library has failed to grow.
Which of the following best describes the author's use of the phrase "tongue-in-cheek moment?"
- A He is expressing his doubt whether we will ever live in a utopia.
- B He is describing Ranganathan's doubt whether we will ever live in a utopia.
- C He is clarifying to the reader that Ranganathan is being facetious in his supposition.
- D He is downplaying the inaccuracy of Ranganathan's supposition.
- E He is providing an example of the humor in Ranganathan's writing.
Correct Answer: C