Thursday, January 24, 2008

“With so much info on phone, why huge library?”

Found on Steven Cohen's Library Stuff, this guest editorial in the Jan. 22 Cincinnati Enquirer asks this question -- which we'd better be able to answer. The writer notes that his phone is:

a gateway to local and global news, updated in real time. It is connected to the greatest single information repository in the history of mankind, and can retrieve data from this network on demand - from anywhere, at any time
and in comparison notes that a new $18 million dollar library is "a monstrosity." He characterizes the library as wasteful of space for marginal uses, while real needs for local tax dollars go unmet. He cites articles (found by googling with his phone) which say library use is declining. But library users are lounging in spacious comfort, surfing the net, checking out last year's TV shows on DVD and playing Guitar Hero.

1 comments:

bkopetsky said...

Well my first response to writer was not well thought out and contained inappropriate language. So let’s go with this instead.

As an admitted tech junkie and early adopter I agree that phones today can do more than we ever imagined them doing ten years ago when the idea of convergence started to become a hot topic. The I-phone and its imitators can surf the internet, email, text, play music and video, and you can even make a phone call with them. That is all great but that is really not what we are all about. I think of the library as a place of learning and discovery. In the library you can find things you did not even know you were looking for. I think this is important because it is that new experience that really adds to our knowledge and allows us to make connections that we could not easily make without having more breadth of knowledge. On the web you really have to know exactly what you want and than it is still not always easy to find.

I guess I picture the writer as some type A, businessman who is so overstressed by his busy schedule that his ticker is on the verge of infarction at any given moment. I know I should not be characterizing a person based on a couple sentences but, as my kids are known to say, he started it! So the library is full of “marginal users.” I find it deeply offensive that anybody call our patrons marginal, and it only goes to show he has not spent any real time in a library. We serve as a gateway to learning by both assisting the schools in meeting their needs as well as helping those that are no longer in school. We teach people how to find and interpret information. I think we drive people to expand the scope of their knowledge with not only our collections but the many programs we develop and host.

Finally, I am guessing that this person has no real loves for the arts. I wonder how he feels about taxpayer money being spent on wasteful places, like museums and concert halls. After all I can look at the little, itty-bitty pictures on my phone and I can listen to the symphony on my phone. I am sure that this is just like the experience of the real thing.

All right, I am stepping down off my soapbox now.