Monday, October 09, 2006

Defending libraries - Are new tactics the key?

This is probably old news to many of you by now, but since I've been out of the office and away from the computer for awhile, I'm playing catch up and found a piece that absolutely belongs on LM. John Blyberg of the Ann Arbor District Library wrote a strong and compelling response to a discussion surrounding an op-ed piece whose author argues against building a new downtown library. Sarah Houghton took a lead in defending the value of libraries in her response (way to go!) and the article has rustled a lot of other feathers, as evidenced by the 61 comments it generated to date. John's analysis is outstanding, and I won't endeavor to repeat it, so give it a read. Two points stand out to me after reading his piece - 1. The op-ed piece is extremely enlightening as to why some people are disenchanted with library services. I agree with John that it's important to listen carefully to these arguments because we need to be prepared to address them with words, actions, and/or new services. 2. Librarians are going to need be increasingly proactive, risk-taking and marketing-savvy to create value for people and to promote that value. As John says, "I think as we push further into the 21st Century, a lot of librarians are going to have to reconcile their expectations of what they think a library should be with what a library needs to be. This is hard, because in order to effect the changes needed to do business in this new, emerging market (yes, we're part of a market), and find a place among the commercial giants we need to be much more nimble than we are now." I agree that being in a defensive, reactionary position is detrimental to our work, and I was glad to read the thoughts in this post. What do you think?

Categories: must_reads | real_life

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