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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Thoughts on an off day

I’ve noticed many librarians are still struggling with the idea of equalization with the customer even in this Google world of patron empowerment.

I don’t get it.

We have the online survey tools to ask our customers what they want on an ongoing basis but we still gravitate toward asking them if they like what we choose for them.

We have the social networks available to reach niche markets and have those passionate users choose the books, journals, magazines, online resources and programs they desire and yet we’re not setting up our own organizations to allow for that input.

And worse, when we do ask what people want, we tend to run those responses through the filter of librarian expertise and come up with “better” products. You know those products. They are the databases that have better information but that no one uses; the “better” programs that never fill the meeting rooms, and on and on…

Does that make sense?

I am still hearing librarians debating whether Google is “good enough”. It is - just ask
“everyone” who use it.

I am still hearing librarians debating whether people will ever give up the pleasure of holding a book for that “cold” Kindle. They will. It may not be the Kindle this time but the convenience of getting lots of books delivered to a lightweight mechanism that can fit in your pocketbook or messenger bag is destined to become a reality. The debate is not about “if” it’s about “how are libraries going to ensure that we will be able to provide them to our readers”.

I’m worried.


Anonymous said...

You're not the only one that worried. I'm concerned for my profession as well. I'm reading "Here Comes Everybody" by Clay Shirky (definitely worth a look) He states that professions are so insular, that they tend to be the last ones to "get it" when the world changes. Librarians were invented to manage the limited resources, what happens when the resource are unlimited.

Nancy Dowd said...

Good question!