Our libraries are obsolete
Original post made by Just build it on Jun 25, 2013
on Jun 25, 2013 at 3:45 pm
Hey, this isn't totally news. It is an interesting question.
I will argue that technology is a tool, not the end goal of high quality information and education and casual answers and "knowledge."
The library world has been shy about promoting itself. It also doesn't go out of the way to point out the difference between circulation clerks (non-professional) and master's degree holding professional librarians. Too bad - leads to an unfortunate downgrade of status overall in our thinking of information professionals. (I daresay even professional journalists are included in this...with the emphasis on glamorizing celebrity tweeting idiots and bloggers nowadays and anyone proclaiming themselves an expert on something, which some accept without question of credentials. That doesn't mean libraries and librarians aren't worthwhile. They can be managed a million ways, the way YOU have seen it is a drop in the bucket, but yet a person may hold very favorable views (IF a librarian saved their neck) or think they are worthless, if they never venture into one or are unfamiliar with the diversity out there. I am a little defensive on this, but I do know something about this subject so I will throw out a few angles to it.
I have worked in the special library sector (meaning corporate America) - yes, as a librarian, and there was very little emphasis on monographs. No hushing whatsoever. A cool atmosphere with results. An emphasis on service and accurate results. Less space, perhaps, devoted to a physical collection of monographs, periodicals, specialized reference tools. Certain parts of corporate America and HQ of national assoiations, whatever, find this function useful to have in-house. There are resources that help competitively in our fast paced world. You don't know what you don't know until you've worked with an intelligent librarian/information specialist.
What IS important is that there be the function of public libraries around in our communities --and they do vary nowadays, it doesn't have to be old school -- it doesn't have to be a certain number of branches -- with some quite modern in style and attitude. I prefer the title "information centers." The word "library" has old school connotations that are unfortunate and don't reflect the better modern libraries.
This function in the public sector offers a range of unbiased (and some biased) information to the public for free. We can't all afford to subscribe to specialized databases. A lot of the public DOESN'T KNOW WHAT THEY ARE MISSING when they avoid the services of professional librarians. Some people know this secret, like many a person starting up a business. Libraries and librarians can be worth their weight in gold.
Google isn't the end all and be all (though students are incorrectly assuming this nowadays, until their college professors set them straight about....using the college library, which IS necessary for scholarship, writing papers that will receive a good grade).
Young people are most at risk for misunderstanding the net - believing anything their favorite blogger posts, for example. While the numbers may be dwindling, there still are educated journalists and primary sources and secondary sources worth being aware of, and credible/vetted/peer-reviewed sources of information. All the same, young people can be lazy and just wish to Google topics in a general manner, overlook paid ranked search results that can create bias.
And yes, there still are the benefits of being able to search serendipitously in a physical library with a decent collection.
A professional librarian can offer professional guidance to those doing casual OR important research.
on Jun 25, 2013 at 4:08 pm
This was a no-brainer. A large number of people now go to libraries for the free Internet, not at all for books.
So why has so much excessive $$$ been spent on the already obsolete Mitchell Park Library ( over budget, over schedule, out of date)? What a waste!
on Jun 25, 2013 at 7:01 pm
It may be news to palo alto. People are all upset because the number of books in certain branches are being decreased. They have blinders on with regard to libraries.
That is why wee have 5 branches--- because we have had 5 branches for decades and we cannot have any changes in palo alto because things were so wonderful 10/20/30 years ago