Wednesday, 5 October 2011

I am not studying for a "Masters in how to be a cheap ass buyer"

Is this all we are?
When people hear the term 'librarian' they think of all sorts, frankly, but a lot of them will think that we just buy books from lists given to us.

But what we were getting at in class was that librarians cannot stand by and be lectured at by others about what they should and should not be doing.  We should be actively finding out what our community wants and getting it for them.  It is easier said than done to canvas a whole community but there are some basic ways of finding out what your people want.  An excellent idea that Prof. Lankes brought up was having the normal 'book return bin' and then having a 'great book return bin' so that librarians could easily see what was being enjoyed and they could get more works like it.  This obviously has its complications such as the subjectivity of what a good book is and the breadth of people using libraries and those people who don't use the book bin but return books to the desk etc.  However, in theory this would be a great way of getting an idea of what your community is reading and enjoying.

We should not just be buyers, or consumers, we need to be somewhere in the middle and facilitate production and consumption.  We should provide facilities for the community to create for themselves.  This does involve a radical redefinition of our role but that is the only way that we are going to survive in this ever changing world.  Publishers, the music and ebook industry also need to change if they are either to combat piracy or use it to their advantage.

Librarian Stereotype
An interesting point that was raised was whether librarians should me the tastemakers of the community like iTunes and Amazon, who suggest new finds and similar items that you might like.  Should the libraries be striving to keep you at the cutting edge of culture?  This is something that I have thought about without any conclusion.  Prof. Lankes was of the opinion that if the community wants librarians to be the tastemakers (if we consider the negative stereotypes we have then perhaps not!) then we should be but if they do not then we should not provide that service.  This sounds ok but I am concerned that librarians end up doing whatever the community wants and that there is no coherence between services in different libraries.  Yes, every community is different and yes, services need to adapt to suit each circumstance but we do not want to do this to the detriment of library identity.  Do we?

1 comment:

  1. I love the "great books" bin idea! It would make library users feel more involved in book selection too. Lots of people don't have time to stop and fill out a recommendation form when they've just bobbed into the library I'm guessing.