April 22, 2014

Was It “Write An Article About Libraries” Week? | LJ Insider

Maybe it was just a slow news week between Christmas and New Year’s, causing editors to pull out the evergreen (pardon the pun) articles. But this past week has been a big one for thinky pieces about the future of libraries in the mainstream media. There’s nothing much new here for the plugged-in librarian, but there may be much that you’ve long been grappling with that patrons are now hearing for the first time. So if you’ve been offline for the holidays, here’s what you missed:

The New York Times ran two, Libraries See Opening as Bookstores Close and the accompanying Room for Debate: Do We Still Need Libraries?

(Before the title raises your blood pressure as it did mine, all the debaters agree that we do, though they call out different aspects of what libraries do and one, at least, feels that libraries shouldn’t be bearing the brunt of providing Internet access. Two of the commenters are from within the library world: Luis Herrera, city librarian of San Francisco and LJ’s 2012 Librarian of the Year, and Buffy J. Hamilton, newly appointed learning strategist for the Cleveland Public Library and LJ 2011 Mover & Shaker.)

John Palfrey, head of school at Philips Andover Academy, explains why this question is up for debate at all, and suggests how to make the case for libraries most effectively to those who are asking the question.

Meanwhile, NPR weighed in on the perennial ebooks for libraries quagmire with Libraries And E-Lending: The ‘Wild West’ Of Digital Licensing?, including an interview with former Library Journal and School Library Journal editorial director, Brian Kenney. And in case your holidays started as early as Hannukah this year, on December 11, Forbes visited the same subject with The Wrong War Over eBooks: Publishers Vs. Libraries, positing that pay-per-circ could be just the compromise model publishers and libraries have been searching for.

The Washington Post eschewed controversy and stuck to human interest with a piece on reading to therapy dogs.

Meredith Schwartz About Meredith Schwartz

Meredith Schwartz (mschwartz@mediasourceinc.com) is Senior Editor, News and Features of Library Journal.

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  1. Well yes in a way it was “write an article about libraries” week. I think it was a response to the earlier (12/7/12) article in the New York Times about bedbugs in library books that went viral on the web. The article spawned loads of other articles across the US and Canada (Toronto, notoriously) featuring libraries who are finding bedbugs in books and library furniture. The backlash from the public included comments about avoiding libraries and using e-books at home. Then, articles began appearing questioning the anecdotal “research” used in the New York Times article, and statistics relating to the Toronto Public Library bedbug cases per the sheer volume of books (1 chance in 3 million). The NYT article received some criticism for fear mongering based on anecdotal research, and so the NYT led the way in publishing a set of articles on the relevance of libraries. I’m guessing