food for thinking about libraries

This weekend has seen lots of good thoughtful pieces on libraries, their purpose and their use. I’ve been reading them all [and making my edible book] so I haven’t been writing here. Here is a short list, in one post, of things I think you should go back and read:

  • read about ALA giving a citation to Laura Bush thanking her for being a “tireless supporter” of libraries, read some ALA Council emails [here’s mine] on the subject, then finish up with Mike McGrorty’s piece.
  • Read Chuck’s post and follow-up about technophilia and the changing role of libraries. Pay attention to the comments, and also see how this is rippling through the blogosphere, in places like Meredith’s blog and Librarians Happen. There are a lot of good thoughtful statements and comments circling around this issue.
  • Read more Michael McGrorty as a bit of a palate cleanser to get back to books for a bit before you re-enter the rest of the busy world of blogs, computers and everything else.

    I must confess that the reason I went to library school was more in the way of understanding the system and its operators than anything else. I thought they must possess some secret, something essential that I might discover and come away with. In the end, I found that it was nothing more than a set of skills set atop the same understanding of the library that I kept; half of me was a librarian all along. Sometimes I have seen it as love, other times as an obsession, but whatever it may be, the devotion to books and reading has saved me from worse fates, and the library, that temple of the book, has been my church, my rock and comfort since I was old enough to walk the stacks.

It’s weekends like this, at the end of National Library Week, that make me happiest to be working in and among libraries.

more NJLA, what do we do about the non-dynamic library?

I arrived too late at NJLA to catch the pre-conference from George at It’s All Good. He sums up his thoughts when asked about the future of non-dynamic libaries and Meredith shares her thoughts about what will happen to libraries that are resistant to change and wither, and those that embrace change and thrive.

I feel for librarians who are full of ideas for improving services to patrons but are stymied at every turn by either their colleagues or the powers that be. I think it is probably the biggest problem libraries have in retaining young/new librarians (with pay being a close second). And more than losing passionate, tech-savvy new-ish librarians, these libraries are alienating entire generations of potential library users – people who believe that libraries are dinosaurs of the pre-digital era, because those are the only libraries they’ve known.