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The old adage that literate cultures have an intellectual advantage over oral cultures finds its latest expression in predictions that digital technologies are causing a knowledge revolution. The new literacy thesis is that digitally literate cultures have intellectual advantage. Implicit in such forecasts is a theory of human progress that jeopardizes the future of librarianship. It assumes that knowledge and human culture must be expressed in terms of the new literacy. This article undertakes to show that librarianship cannot always be understood in terms of its association with the social practices and institutions founded upon literate expression.