Over the past few days, I’ve come across two must read pieces for librarians as we move ahead into a very interesting and exciting time for public libraries. I’ve included links and some choice quotes below:
Services More Meaningful Than Ebooks by Aaron Schmidt
Why are we obsessed with libraries as places of access to commercially published material? It’s traditional, it’s easy, and it makes for easily measurable circulation. But the publishing industry—an integral part of our ability to provide commercial content—is experiencing upheaval. For the most part, we’ve taken the bait, responding with complaints and, in some cases, boycotts. Something else is going on though. We’re really so upset because we see in publishers’ erratic behavior a reminder that we’ve built libraries on a now shaky foundation.
Unfortunately, this focus is distracting us from the realization that we don’t need to treat access to commercial content as our primary mission. Yes, we’ve put a lot of effort into it in the past, and we’ve done it well. But it’s time to take a step back.
Libraries as software by Hugh Rundle
What libraries have all too often focused on in the past is hardware – buildings, books, journals and rooms. Librarians get caught up in hardware questions continually – hardback or paperback, how many PCs, should we buy Blu ray discs, lend Kindles, subscribe to downloadable talking books, throw out our cassette tapes….? In this context, we can consider things like journal databases, ebooks and other downloadables as hardware as well – we treat these things as artifacts, things to be collected and stored…The real value of libraries is not the hardware. It has never been the hardware. Your members don’t come to the library to find books, or magazines, journals, films or musical recordings. They come to be informed, inspired, horrified, enchanted or amused. They come to hide from reality or understand its true nature. They come to find solace or excitement, companionship or solitude. They come for the software.
Great stuff, eh? I’ll leave with a doozy of a quote from Rundle’s piece:
How we change the software – the services we provide, the way we make information findable, how we help people to make connections between things – will determine the future of libraries and the communities they serve.