What should libraries do to become relevant in the digital age?
They can’t survive as community-funded repositories for books that individuals don’t want to own (or for reference books we can’t afford to own.) More librarians are telling me (unhappily) that the number one thing they deliver to their patrons is free DVD rentals. That’s not a long-term strategy, nor is it particularly an uplifting use of our tax dollars.
Here’s my proposal: train people to take intellectual initiative.
Once again, the net turns things upside down. The information is free now. No need to pool tax money to buy reference books. What we need to spend the money on are leaders, sherpas and teachers who will push everyone from kids to seniors to get very aggressive in finding and using information and in connecting with and leading others.
It’s interesting to look at the post by Robin Cicchetti that inspired Seth’s post, 2010 . She muses about what will keep her school library “central and indispensible”. Her answers are below in dot point, but it is worth reading her entire post where she elaborates :
- Transform the “library” into a “learning commons.”
- Stop paper training students. Push information out to students digitally and also teach them the critical skills of finding and evaluating it for themselves.
- Be a leading voice in bringing new ideas to your community as a tool for evaluating current practice.
- Advocate for the diversification of formats.
- Treasure and promote curiosity and creativity in our students.