Theory

The More Libraries Change The More They Stay The Same

Wayne Bivens-Tatum "Libraries Never Change"

This snapshot of library criticism from 75 years ago shows us both that libraries have in practice and principle changed dramatically in that time and in unpredictable ways. The only thing that hasn't seemed to change is the relentless criticism we apply to ourselves and our profession, the insistence that we are out of touch somehow with the larger world, that we've been "switched out of the current of social change, occupying a niche or eddy" of our own

Is There a Schism in Libraries?

Traditionalists v. Modernisers? From Times Online UK:

"Libraries gave us power”, the first line of the Manic Street Preachers’ Design for Life, powerfully articulates the value of a great utilitarian civic service. The lyricist Nicky Wire was prompted to write the song after a trip to the Victorian branch library in Pillgwenlly, Newport, where the phrase “Knowledge is power” sits above the door. Now, by way of a symbolic gesture to the march of progress, they adorn Cardiff’s new £15 million six-storey glass-and-concrete central library, which opened last summer complete with a white baby-grand piano and a Wagamama outlet.

The recently released Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) review ring-fenced the Libraries Act 1964, effectively preserving libraries as a cornerstone of our culture. However, its talk of free e-books, social networking use, community diversity and commercial links has fuelled a fierce debate about the purpose of a library in the modern age.

Talk to both sides and there is a clear schism between traditionalists and modernisers. For one it is about books and silence, for the other it’s about community usage, Facebook and cups of coffee or, in the words of Andrew Motion, the former Poet Laureate and now the chairman of the Museums Libraries and Archives Council, “shhh and fining or Starbucks and PCs”.

Thanks to Trevor Dawes for the tip.

Web Illiteracy: How Much Is Your Fault?

Web Illiteracy: How Much Is Your Fault?
These are ways of writing which bring about undesired consequences, and yet bloggers and other members of the technological elite use them all the time. Is this part of the new illiteracy? The funny thing about the patterns in these misunderstandings is that they predate the Web. Newspapers receive misdirected mail for celebrities. Scientists receive email from people who want help registering a patent. ...The Internet simply makes this kind of confusion more obvious to the rest of us.

What should libraries do to become relevant in the digital age?

Seth Godin wonders What should libraries do to become relevant in the digital age? His proposal: train people to take intellectual initiative.

Once again, the net turns things upside down. The information is free now. No need to pool tax money to buy reference books. What we need to spend the money on are leaders, sherpas and teachers who will push everyone from kids to seniors to get very aggressive in finding and using information and in connecting with and leading others.

Understanding Open Access Through A Concept Map

Open Access Concept Map
Laura Briggs says "I originally created an open access concept map so that I could develop a better understanding of open access. It's a living document so feel free to send me any references or concepts that you think are missing. Send me your open access concept map and I'll post it here!"

What Will Make Your Patrons Abandon Your Library?

Seth Godin: It's not the rats you need to worry about

"Amazon and the Kindle have killed the bookstore. Why? Because people who buy 100 or 300 books a year are gone forever. The typical American buys just one book a year for pleasure. Those people are meaningless to a bookstore. It's the heavy users that matter, and now officially, as 2009 ends, they have abandoned the bookstore. It's over."

Who are the heavy users in your library? Can you see anything on the horizon that's going to cause your best customers abandon your library?

Alternative futures for the Public Library Network in NSW in 2030

Alternative futures for the Public Library Network in NSW in 2030 [PDF]:
The project has been remarkable in that over 150 public and State Library staff at all levels, across a
range of ages, have participated in the workshops and interviews that have shaped the timelines, scenarios
and suggested responses.
This engaging document provides a framework for the NSW public library network to monitor trends
and developments in society that will inevitably have an impact on our future services and customers.

Wikipedia's facts-about-facts make the impossible real

Wikipedia's facts-about-facts make the impossible real
Here's the thing about expertise: it's hard to define. It may be possible for a small group of relatively homogenous people to agree on who is and isn't an expert, but getting millions of people to do so is practically impossible. The Britannica uses a learned editorial board to decide who will write its entries and who will review them.

Climate change for libraries

Climate change for libraries:
"Everywhere now in our professional literature we see the challenges of our work represented by the imagery of flow and fluidity. We try to scope and identify workflows that are changing or need to change. The platform of the web dips and peaks faster and differently than we can predict, and as it does so content suddenly flows in different directions, taking new channels. Stability in this environment is rare, and a relief when we find it, even though it may lie in places that librarians take some time to trust - like Google and Wikipedia."

How our brains learned to read

How our brains learned to read
The brain in its modern form is about 200,000 years old, yet brain imaging shows reading taking place in the same way and in the same place in all brains. To within a few millimetres, human brains share a reading hotspot - what Stanislas Dehaene calls the "letterbox" - on the bottom of the left hemisphere.
(From a review of Reading in the Brain: The science and evolution of a human invention by Stanislas Dehaene)
Thanks Ender!

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