Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Oh no, the dreaded "read this and write out your thoughts on it" assignment. (Flashback to highschool)
Ah well. I thought Rick Anderson made some good points in his Away from the "Icebergs" piece. I think one of the hardest things for me...and any bibliophile to accept, is that digital resources are slowly growing in popularity over print materials. (Not that I'm entirely against the idea - the reader in me is already thrilled at the thought of someday being able to download any book, any time, anywhere!) As Anderson says, though, this doesn't have to mean disaster for libraries - it just means change.
I also agree that libraries need to get out of the "come to us" mindset. I think that PLCMC has already started doing this, with our on-line audiobooks, library MySpace accounts, and websites like Reader's Club. Of course, we can take it even further - I'd like to see PLCMC get more involved with e-books, MP3s, and digital news sources.
A point Anderson makes that I somewhat disagree with, though, is the reliance on user education. Yes, it would be wonderful if we could remove the barriers between people and the information they want to access, but those of us here in the trenches every day know that it's not so easy. No matter how user-friendly you make a site, you're always going to end up with a patron sitting at the computer saying "This screen says 'hit Enter,' and there's a diagram of the keyboard with the Enter key circled in red. What does that mean?" For every new piece of technology that comes out, there are thousands of people who need all the help they can get in understanding it, and I think the library is a wonderful place for those people to come. After all, what are we here for, if not to be a source of information? I would like to see more technology classes - maybe even classes geared towards adults on how to use basic library equipment. (I know we have some patrons here who would sign up!) I would also like to see better staffing solutions. At the beginning of this paragraph, Anderson says that libraries are "poorly equipped and insufficiently staffed for teaching." - I think that's the real iceberg. If the patron-to-librarian ratio is something like 680 to 1, then patrons coming in and needing personal help aren't going to get it, and they aren't going to come back.
And there's your two cents worth from a humble Library Assistant.

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