Monday, May 16, 2011

Seth Godin The Future of the Library

Seth Godin writes about The Future of the Library - the future of the public library - as a place that no longer warehouses books. Librarians should take on the role of teacher, data hound, guide, sherpa, passionate raconteur of information. The roles for public librarians that Godin suggests are excellent, but he seems to be saying that libraries no longer need books - or even licenses for electronic resources - since Kindles and Netflix are cheap. Is he really saying that even the poorest among us can afford Kindles and ebooks and Netflix subscriptions? Is he saying that everything's available for free on the Web so there's no need to license resources on behalf of users? Bobbi Newman's one of the librarians quick on the draw: She's already posted a response at Librarian By Day. She points out that even if you don't consider books for public libraries, the cost of proprietary databases, etc. is going up. Can we do without those resources? My experiences trying to find open educational resources for University of the People courses tells me no, not yet. Can we do without providing access to both print and electronic books? My experiences looking around for recent books I hear mentioned in the press and on TV tells me no not yet. Some books coming out this year are still not available in electronic format(!). And prices... If I personally had to purchase everything I'd like to read, well... I couldn't afford it. Does everyone but me really have an unlimited budget for books? As for the rest of it... librarians as teachers? I like it!

May 23: Catching up on my reading... I wanted to be sure to get a link to Kent Anderson's May 23 post "As Book Warehouses Vanish, Is It Time for Librarians to Stop Running Libraries?" I'm not quite sure if he's calling for an end to the profession or not...

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