Saturday, May 19, 2007

state of the library

May 15th, 2007

Librarians I’ve talked with haven’t generally been pleased with ALA’s 07 State of America’s Libraries. I hear grumbling. I hear mumbling that the report is self-serving. I hear much cynical dissatisfaction that the ALA is out of touch, glancing rosily around at a future they don’t much get. Maybe that’s not fair. I mean, after all, they presumably haven’t cooked the books to get to these statistics.

Angel makes a good point:

And we still have our work cut out for us in terms of educating people about social networks. That we have a bunch of hysteria mongers trying to legislate something they don’t understand is simply disgraceful.

Truly any new big numbers of library visitors are mostly visitors to library computer labs, no? What do folks overwhelmingly do on the computers? Visit social networks, yes. The report says that public library connection speeds don’t live up to user “needs”. Ha. Haha.

Folks, we’re standing around shrugging at each other over web2.0, yet to really imagine and implement good information services that use social networking, folksonomy, or user-generated content to excellent effect. We’re mostly trying to convince our administrative overlords that we should at least have this discussion, to at leat talk about the potential benefits and pitfalls of making ourselves availabe on, like, Facebook.

And while we stand shrugging, web3.0, a more or less intelligent “semantic” web, is slowly growing its bones. What will it take to make real technological (and therefore cultural) leaders out of librarians? Maybe it’s a lost cause. We fold to “hysteria mongers” who are even more short sighted than we are.

I’m not feeling very hopeful, either, at the moment. And I am beginning to think that the real information service action is corporate. We didn’t build it, they didn’t come. Yahoo! built it. Google built it. Ask built it. MySpace built it. Our patrons don’t come to us, they just come for MySpace.

We’ve dropped the ball.

2 comments to “state of the library”

First, thanks for the link. To be honest, by the time I posted about, I figured it would slip unseen. Anyhow, you hit it well. We need to get our overlords in the library world to at least start having the discussions. The patrons are already at the next level (well, for the most part. I don’t buy every single patron has gone 2.0 either). I would like to think that we can get librarians to that point you mention of being leaders. Unfortunately, I look around, and I hate to say this, but it may take some people just getting weeded out. I probably should quit while I am ahead (I am in a setting where certain “leaders” can do best by simply retiring and getting out of our way). It’s hard to be hopeful, but we should at least try. Best, and keep on blogging.

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