I just finished playing through Halo 4 on legendary settings, and that got me back to a line of thought I had late last year after finishing Greg Baer's second book in his Halo Forerunner series.
But first, some background information. Halo is a series of video games that essentially made Microsoft's xbox game console the juggernaut it is. It liberally borrowed from Larry Niven's famous ringworld series of novels that proposed the concept of a planet built as a ring around a central sun. The series is famous in science fiction both for its story and the serious attempts to scientifically explain how such a world could actually exist.
Halo mainly borrowed the concept, and turned these "Halo" planets into giant weapons intended as a last resort against an all consuming threat simply known as "the Flood". The Halo story was fairly thin even though a series of pulp novels and graphic novels had fleshed out some of the story. But Microsoft pulled a coup when they were able to get acclaimed science fiction writer Greg Baer to agree to a trilogy of Halo novels. Baer is one of the most respected and serious writers of science fiction out there, and I only picked up the series because I knew he would give me a real story with real characters and not pulp entertainment.
What I have been fascinated by is his portrayal of "The Librarian". The Librarian is one of the most critical and powerful of all Forerunners. She is also female (which shows that even Baer can't quite leave his old prejudices aside...). The Forerunners are the most powerful and advanced species in the Halo universe. They are also the oldest. What is fascinating is that Baer takes the archetype of a Librarian and uses it as one of his most critical characters. Granted, he started the series after the third Halo game had already introduced the Librarian in a brief way, but he could have easily adjusted his story to make her a minor character. Instead, she becomes one of the central players in the action and drama of the story. The picture above is taken from her one interaction with the game's main protagonist, Master Chief. Essentially, the Librarian is the main heroine and champion of life, peace, and all that is good. What I find most fascinating is that she does this by cataloguing and preserving all sentient life. Rather than simply archiving information she saves and stores entire species with the hope that they can all return home after the Flood apocalpyse is finally over. She is developed as an all powerful benevolent god intent on helping lesser species survive the capriciousness and vicousness of her own species. She is often at odds with the other Forerunners and uses her exalted status to bend the rules and pursue her one goal of preserving all life in the universe.
What is interesting is that this is a recurring concept in the tech world. Many librarians would think that techies see little value in libraries and librarians, but that is not the case. Many like Baer and the designers of the Halo series actually do recognize our value, they just don't see value in our 20th century services. Instead they see Librarians cataloguing, recording and preserving humanity itself. Not too shabby.
Ironically, we have always been doing this at some level our other, we simply need to find ways to adapt to the new possibilities and tools the tech commuity is giving us. Out with the old, in with the older, so to speak. Because after all, that is really what libraries were all about before that brief interludes of book circulation that came to dominate our profession this past two hundred years. Books were simply containers, albeit beautiful ones that I personally prefer, but just containers for the human story. What I find most fascinating is that the tech world still envisions a place for us in the new ecosystem. We just have to see that too.