Living in a tiny village in the Republic of Georgia, where the only source of information is the all-day-long Sunday gossip session that Orthodox Georgians know as ‘church’, can lead one to appreciate things that educated Americans take for granted or even complain about. What we call ‘information overload’ suddenly seems entirely copacetic when faced with the alternative of living without modern textbooks, up-to-date medical research, political data, news of the world beyond the village perimeter. The fact that not having access to information is a major handicap becomes easily visible when you are in the former Soviet Union where many people remember Stalin with great fondness. If I hadn’t served as a Peace Corps volunteer I can honestly say that I would never have even considered becoming a professional librarian. I wanted to do something exciting, something that would change the world! Librarians, I mistakenly thought, spent their boring, solitary workdays surrounded by dusty books doing work that was no longer needed now that we lived in an age of Google!
Providing access to information is one of the most important functions of any library. For an academic library it might be the most important. Interestingly, however, many libraries do not include accessibility in their collection management policies. When it comes to physical spaces we are certainly ADA compliant. But when it comes to electronic resources we are more likely to rely on vendors to be create resources that are accessible to people with all types of ability…even though any librarian can tell you that many online resources have accessibility issues even for patrons without physical limitations. Continue reading
When you think about good customer service, what do you think of? Do you remember an especially helpful salesperson from a department store that helped you once? Do you think about the friendly baristas at your local coffee shop who are cheerful even at 5am? Do you think about librarians? I don’t! Even though service is a key component to libraries our “customer service”, the face-to-face interactions we have with patrons, that seem to be seriously underrated among librarians. I know that there are some librarians who are providing excellent customer service, who are friendly and outgoing and available. But why are there so many unfriendly-seeming librarians? At one particular large public library system where I happen to know quite a few people it is even joked about – the introverted “roving” librarians who hide behind bookshelves rather than talk to patrons. Continue reading
An opinion piece published on the Forbes website on July 18 has some interesting ideas about what the new Kindle Unlimited means for libraries. In Close the Libraries and Buy Everyone a Kindle Unlimited, Tim Worstall, presents a financial argument for closing all the libraries and replacing them with the new feature from Amazon. According to this article the United Kingdom spends 1.7 billion pounds (almost 2.9 billion dollars) but could purchase a Kindle Unlimited account for every single citizen for the low price of…just a bit more than 1.7 billion pounds (hmmm…that doesn’t sound like it would save much money – maybe Tim Worstall works for Amazon?).
This has probably been in the works for a while but I just recently learned that we will soon be able to buy and sell books on Facebook. I guess it was really just a matter of time before the platform moved beyond advertising into direct marketing so I can’t say that I’m surprised. We will have to stop calling this a “social media” site at some point and start calling it something like “social shopping”. I can’t say that I am happy about this development but I can’t say that I’m surprised, either.
What is interesting to me is how this relates to libraries and library use of social media.