So what IS it about...?

25 April 2011

Over recent months I've been reflecting a lot on the future of public libraries.  Being a Librarian in a municipal library service, this is more than an academic exercise - my future employment could depend on it.  It seems I may be a little behind in this conversation - plenty of librarian bloggers and public speakers have been reflecting on this for a while.  On the other hand, it seems that the role of public libraries has been contested, and their imminent death remarked upon, since the very beginning.

At the moment, however, it seems a little more urgent and a little more likely.  The point of this blog is to explore the ideas, views and models being discussed in the library, publishing and information management spheres.  I begin this exploration unconvinced of the imminent death of public libraries, but equally unconvinced that we can simply bumble along ignoring the possibility.  If librarians want to have a role in the future, we need to be clear on what value we add to society.

I'll be exploring interesting models for library service, like the Anythink program/branding exercise developed by Rangeview Library District.

I'll be exploring concepts, like whether Copyright is an outdated model in a digital world.

I'll be exploring the impact of technology, like RFID tagging and eBooks, on libraries and (something that doesn't seem to be widely discussed) the impact of libraries and librarians on the development of those technologies.

Most of all I'll be exploring the role of libraries and librarians as the world (or at least the 'western' world) changes radically.  The name of this blog might give you an idea of my viewpoint on this.  We're in the business of sharing, clarifying, organising and finding information, ideas and stories.  We're not in the business of lending books - that's just a manifestation of how we fulfilled our real role for many decades.  As Scott Lewis said at the recent PLVN Unconference, "We need to separate the values from the practice".  Or more simply: it's not about the books.