8 Responses to what keeps me up at night?

  1. A timely & thoughtful post Jacqueline. I am reminded of a quote in an article I recent read Library transformation goes beyond individual libraries in Feliciter. The author stated, “allowing school libraries to be dismantled has a downstream impact on public and post-secondary libraries and provides ammunition to those who believe libraries are no longer necessary in our society” (p. 258). It really showed the interconnectedness of all libraries………its time we choose to work together before we are forced to : ) Having the choice is always much more pleasant!

  2. Ron Knowling says:

    I find discussions of library issues confounding at several levels. What is a library? What is a Librarian? What is information? Is a library a collection of books in a building? or is it a wireless service in a park? or perhaps it is a ‘Roving Reference Librarian in a Food Court” and is a library a vending machine which dispenses DVDs or a Website. I think this ambiguity surrounding the profession and its environment (the library) is a relatively recent phenomena and many librarians to go into denial rather than address it.

    The first wave of this as starting in the 70s with online searches which were the first hint of how libraries would change. They were generally isolated to academic and special libraries while public libraries continued to operate ‘normally’. In the 90s a second wave occurred when computers and the Internet came to libraries in the form of the public workstation. When I first started working in Public Libraries in the 2000s there were still people complaining about the computers and hoping they would go away. The third wave has been the Web 2.0 phase which started seven or eight years ago. Mobility might be a part of this or it might be a separate thing. It is hard to say.

    So what is all of this pertaining to? given your statements “Libraries are about sharing information” and “Libraries are about teaching and learning” and “Libraries are about connecting information and technology” I would add “Libraries are about individuals and communities” but the dilemma is that many of our colleagues, I believe, have rejected part of this by privledging books, not the written word but ‘books’ over other forms of media. Books present an easy and authoritative formula for many professionals. Because they are distinct and stable objects which have been vetted and edited by publishers and reviewed by trade journals they represent a known commodity. An easy solution.

    This is in contrast to the ‘new media’ which are much more amorphous and give patrons the ability to consume, but also to create and change depending on their inclination.

    The problem is that within that is an implicit rejection of patrons who want to explore the new media.Too many libraries continue to cater to the middle classes, the middle aged, elderly and children. The poor get little encouragement, teenagers and young adults are considered too difficult and hormonally imbalanced to work with, while the affluent and the educated find other sources of info and entertainment because they can and the public library formula is too “one size fits all” for their taste.

    I am cautious of statements which require concensus before a decision can be made or an action can be taken. I understand the context you are coming from with this paragraph but I would counter that if I believe it is best for my library/community/patrons then it is what I will do. I do agree however that agendas have to be stated explicitly to avoid people playing zero sum games with policy.

    We need to develop a concensus on what libraries and librarians are and what they do. I think your three statements are a good start. I would like to see some consideration given to communities served and patrons. I feel that we have not fully grasped implications of the plasticity of information in this new age and until we do in both its negative and positive terms as professionals we are not prepared for what is coming.

    • Thank you for your thoughtful feedback, Ron.

      So very true that libraries are about individuals and communities as well – and the reminder that that applies to the library community itself too.

      Not looking for consensus. Just a healthy understanding of potential impacts of decisions and actions (or inactions) on the rest of the collective as all libraries contribute to the fabric of library services.

  3. Stan Squires says:

    “When we collect, contribute and share our own library data, we are supporting the collective story about libraries, stories that paint a national picture of library use and relevance. These data-powered stories help libraries in all jurisdictions.”

    Oh so very, very true. Having just looked at the latest OCLC dataset on public libraries in Canada for the “latest national picture” only to find that they represent but a minority of public libraries in Canada. When oh when will we get an accurate dataset to really tell the excellent stories to funders, politicians and the media?

  4. Al Smith says:

    Thanks again Jacqueline for another thoughtful message. We ( all library entities ) need to work together more and toward some common goals more than ever before because this era is revolutionary. Funding cuts, war, strife, despots, etc threatened libraries but no one really believed they were irrelevant. Even dictators when they burn a library believe they have value- just not for their agenda. Even Hitler burning books thought libraries had a place- his way. Today with technology access, people are actually being convinced in the Internet myth that the library is only a set of texts and should be closed. Being under siege from within is another matter altogether. Thanks.

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