Monday, November 15, 2010

Learning Blog #10 Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Libraries. Struggle.Reinvent. Digital. Age.
This was the week for Libraries in the news. I heard a snippet of radio interview with Zittrain, and now this article.  

 "In other cases, such as the new Jonathan Franzen bestseller "Freedom," the book is available to consumers as an e-book, but the publisher does not offer electronic versions to libraries. The book's publisher, Farrar, Strauss and Giroux., declined to comment on whether piracy concerns affected its decision to hold the digital version of "Freedom" out of libraries."

The publisher does not offer electronic versions. Lame. Is there any provision for offering it as service to sight impaired viewers. Will the publishers sue for running it under a magnifying glass or Kurzweil machine? Sounds like a job for an activist librarian.

"If you want to have game rooms and ping pong tables and God knows what — poker parties — fine, do it, but don't pretend it has anything to do with libraries," said Michael Gorman, a former president of the American Library Assn. "The argument that all these young people would turn up to play video games and think, 'Oh by the way, I must borrow that book by Dostoyevsky' — it seems ludicrous to me." Snark! true but I don't think that is the point, to lure them in with wii and have them leave with Dostoyevsky. You have video games in the library to give kids a place to go besides the streets, or an empty house. While the they there, maybe they will pick up a guide on how to play video games, or computer programming, or graphic design, or socialize, learn something about games and chance. Gorman's argument leaves out a big reason people go to the library, for the social connections. Sometimes it is not about the Dostoyevsky.

My aha moment came at the last Quatrefoil Board meeting, when the Membership Assessment Task Force presented their report. We send out a survey to our members as well as 100 former members to ask what was important to them. Why they renewed or did not renew their membership, how often they visited. Over 200 people responded and gave very thoughtful answers. The number one reason people gave for joining was "to support the library"--not because of our collections, or building, or hours, but just becuase we are a "good idea". Wow. It made me rethink the conclusion of my paper regarding "Building a better website for Quatrefoil". Perhaps the focus should be on the social networking side, and less on building the perfect OPAC.

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