I'm not a library professional. I just play one in real life.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Inservice Day at our library

Along with the usual team-building aspects of an inservice day, there was one speech today that held some interesting ideas, even if they were a bit "high-falutin'," as my grandmother would have said.

I agreed with his discussion of technology and the many opportunities available to libraries in its usage. For example, the use of podcasts by blogs such as The Shifted Librarian (http://theshiftedlibrarian.com/) and others could be of use to libraries to attract younger audiences. In addition, Johnson County's libraries have instituted self-checkout lines just like in the larger grocery stores, thus freeing up staff to work on other projects. E-Books and E-Journals also hold an attraction in that they could increase collection size without larger facilities. These electronic sources are also searchable, unlike printed versions. Society in general seems to be moving toward a more electronic culture, one in which people read their newspapers online and look for emails in their inbox rather than postal mail in their mailbox.

In addition, I think he was correct in his belief that public libraries should take every advantage of cooperating with other organizations and businesses. He cited one library in which they archived the stories of Hispanic-Americans living in that city in order to preserve that part of their history. This sort of self-preservation and participation in the community has some exciting prospects. It seems as if this sort of project would be easy if one enlisted the help of college students to do a study that would not only further their career but be of interest to the greater community. Many of the library workers that I have encountered hold great creativity if they were allowed to express that through their work.

I disagreed with his speech, however, when he stated that the internet usage in libraries would be outdated in 5 years or so. He believed that handhelds would take the place of desktop computers and internet. While handhelds such as Blackberries may have amazing capabilities, I do not believe that they have all of the capabilities that a full-fledged computer does. Part of his assumption too was that everyone already has a computer along with an internet connection at home. Most of the patrons who use the internet at the library cannot afford a computer, much less the monthly charge of an ISP.

I think it is more telling that more and more of the patrons come in to the library to work on the internet, not to check out a book. While handhelds hold promise and their capabilities should be utilized, I think that libraries can also provide more electronic services without leaving those behind who cannot afford more advanced technologies at home. We could provide more computer and technology related classes, more interactive media such as blogs and wikis and message boards, and more online source materials. These--along with probably many more ideas--could provide patrons with the "faster is better" information while still making sure that everyone has access to the information, even those who cannot afford a Blackberry.


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