I was going to write about the further demise of school librarians, this time in Chicago. However, I can’t tell from the content or tone of this article whether there is a systematic issue or just an irate columnist attacking Rahm Emanuel. It seems to be long on anger and short on substance.
So instead, lets turn to some happier news. Unlike school librarians, the Rodney Dangerfields of Librarianship, public libraries seem to be doing pretty well recently, despite the occasional tea party tirades we sometimes see in the comments sections of news articles about how awful and socialist and outdated and evil public libraries are.
First, there’s the ebook problem. Although it’s still a problem, and although the current terms of “purchase” for library ebooks is an appalling swindle librarians should be wary of, there’s a glimmer of hope.
In this interview of various ALA leaders, I discovered that all of the Big Five publishers are now selling to public libraries. That might not be news to everyone else, but I can’t keep up on all the trends.
I’m sure the ebook publishers still want plenty of friction, and they’re definitely not giving libraries good deals, but for those libraries desperate to spend 3-4 times the price of a paper book for an ebook with built in restrictions or obsolescence, this is good news!
Okay, maybe that’s a mixed blessing.
How about this one. Libraries are finally able to provide some streaming media, just like Netflix! Except with an even more limited catalog.
It’s through something called Hoopla, which I haven’t tried. Supposedly, it’s getting more popular. If it does, it’ll make it even harder to think of libraries “as stodgy brick-and-mortar havens for bibliophiles,” which the article claims is the case now.
It’s such a weird phrase, though. Is “brick-and-mortar” inherently stodgy? People don’t seem to mind “brick-and-mortar” grocery stores, or banks, or restaurants.
Or is it the bibliophiles that are “stodgy”? It’s that foreign sounding word, right? That’s the stodgy bit. Booklovers isn’t nearly as stodgy. Gotta love that loaded language.
Then there’s even better news, that young people still read and like libraries. That’s just crazy, because if we’ve been told anything by pundits over the last decade or so it’s that young people are avoiding reading and libraries in favor of smartphones and ecstasy-filled raves. Or something like that.
And now it turns out that’s not true. Last time I trust a pundit.
But my favorite news isn’t about how people still use libraries or how libraries are continuing to add new services to the ones they already have. That’s not even news to anyone who knows about libraries.
Libraries will not only save us from illiteracy and boredom, they might very well save us during the next tropical storm or hurricane. That’s pretty impressive for a perennially underfunded institution like the public library.
The idea, at least in New York, is that more public library branches would be great shelters during storms.
A good idea? Well, the Atlantic Wire seems to like the idea, because it published a short column basically repeating the piece from the New York Times without adding anything except that storms are predicted sometime in the future. Good to know.
I think it’s a good idea. I’d much rather spend my time after a major storm hanging out at the library drinking coffee and recharging my portable electronics than sitting in a darkened apartment wondering if we’re finally at the end times.
Libraries saving us from hurricanes while streaming nature documentaries and providing us with overpriced ebooks.