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Saturday, May 10, 2008

Libraries and Change

Truth: Can You Handle It? Better Yet: Do You Know It When You See It? By Monica Hesse from the Washington Post I remember while I was working on my MLIS, we would talk about how for years people have been saying the library is doomed. The library was doomed when TV was becoming popular. The library was doomed when they started circulating records and movies. And now the library is doomed with the internet. Precedent certainly would show that librarians shouldn't be concerned about libraries going away anytime soon. But, when I see articles like this one it's hard not to be concerned. I want to be an agent for change, and to make libraries relevant and useful in the lives of my patrons, friends, and family. But, for my husband (an academic), he would be happier if he didn't even have to go in to the library-- he could get all his scholarly articles as pdf's delivered to his email account, and all his books sent via campus mail to his mailbox. But my poor little librarian heart resents that the space itself isn't special. I may be fooling myself when I say this, but perhaps the public library is different from an academic library because it's more of a community space than a research facility. Even the way kids use our collection is different than when I was a kid (not that long ago). It's hard not to be disheartened when children would rather fill out their worksheets from multiple disreputable websites than flip through one beautiful, timely and accurate book. Yes, their research is "good enough" for their worksheet, but don't they deserve better than that?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The library will never be doomed. True, academic libraries have never been more than repositories and could easily be replaced (and made more efficient for distribution/access) electronically. My math library in college was always a great place to study as it hardly had anyone in it at any given time.
Educators do need to become more diligent about allowing Internet research such as limiting references and, possibly, limiting it to certain sites. That's where the true challenge lies: how to bring/force acceptance/accuracy of information derived from this new source.