A recent Ithaka report by Roger Schonfeld asks “Does Discovery Still Happen in the Library?” My immediate thought was “did it ever?” quickly followed by “why do we assume it should?
The beginning of each semester always rejuvenates me. There is nothing more stimulating than those first few sessions with a class of expectant students, arriving with their high energy, curiosity, and desire to participate and impress. My new class at Pratt Institute’s SILS came to New York from all over America and the world. The students range in age from their 20s to their 60s, which has so often been typical of my LIS classes. It is a great privilege and honor to work with them to try to answer the accursed questions that continue to plague our profession.
DOCTOR WHO Day began as an idea for a teen program, but it blossomed to include patrons of all ages, since adults and kids often asked if they could attend the Doctor Who episode screenings that young adult librarian Aimee Villet hosted at the Robbins Library. Library staff in every department were enthusiastic about contributing the needed 75 hours of time for the all-Saturday program, with episode screenings, trivia, crafts, a costume contest, a fan art gallery, a TARDIS hunt, and a TARDIS photo booth. (TARDIS [time and relative dimension in space] is Dr.Who’s time machine for the uninitiated.)
Only about 12 percent of an average U.S. library budget is for books and other content. Antilibrary zealots will latch onto this statistic eventually, downplaying that libraries are about much more than books. A good proactive response would be a national digital library endowment and separate but allied digital library systems—one for public library patrons, the other mainly for academia, even though everyone could access both. New digital efficiencies could help libraries offer taxpayers even more value than they do now.
I participated in a series of meetings last week to determine how the Duke Libraries would respond to the bankruptcy filing made by subscription agent Swets. We have been through this before, when Faxon/RoweCom failed, and many libraries lost a lot of money. Unfortunately, more money is going to be lost this time around. Perhaps it is time for us to think about how we got into this situation——and how to make sure we never end up back here again.
Online learning, much touted and often doubted, is revolutionizing education as we know it. This is good for learners and could be transformational for libraries. The connection between learning and libraries has always been natural and strong—it’s fundamental. This particular transition, however, intensifies the need for libraries and calls for stepped-up services to support these independent learners.
I’ve heard it a lot: “We want to make OUR website better, but we’re stuck using our city’s system!” It breaks my heart every time, not only because of the underperforming library website but also because it means that a stakeholder in the local government isn’t recognizing that librarians are information professionals who might know a thing or two about websites. If you or someone you know is in this position, read on. Below is a letter, from me—a library website specialist—that you can send to your city manager or other stakeholder. With any luck, adding another voice to your cause will help you prevail.
I’ve run into a few problems with library ebooks lately that have made me even more skeptical of them as complete replacements for print books in libraries. Since skeptics of library ebooks are sometimes considered luddites or reactionaries, I should go ahead and add the disclaimer that I really like ebooks that I don’t acquire from the library. I did a quick calculation of the books I’ve read since mid-January and of those 33 books, 27 were ebooks. Some of them were several hundred pages long, but reading them on a good ereader was generally a pleasant experience.
Letters to the editor from the September 15, 2014 issue of Library Journal.