The Potential Dismal Fate of Libraries – Left Behind in the Dust of the Social Media Revolution…03.25.09

25 03 2009


(Comic: Geek and Poke)

The Librarian By Day has a great post and question today titled “We’re barely treading water, what will keep us from drowning?”  with which everyone who is aware of the tumultuous changes taking place should be concerned.

Our libraries/non-profits/businesses are generally reluctant to let go and accept the inevitable. The atmosphere in most of our organizations reminds me of the struggle in the last half of 1990’s trying to get management to commit to websites and other online marketing efforts that are taken for granted today as absolutely essential. Too bad we didn’t learn from our past mistakes. Those who made the earliest commitments to the new technology back then, reaped the biggest long-term benefits.

Anyway, here is an excerpt from Bobbi L. Newman‘s post today which started with the most recently updated popular  Did You Know” video:

Now think about this – How do libraries fit into this picture? As far as I can tell the technologies we’re struggling to adapt to and implement might very well be outdated by the time we’re ready to start using them..Let’s face it we’ve been talking about the next gen OPAC for how many years? … Maybe we need to look at changing our organizational structure and mindset first.

[Nay it is; I know not “seems.” …Ay, there’s the rub!–quoteth Hamlet and the Lone Wolf]

Then we’ll be better equipped to keep pace…Because right now I see two problems

  1. The level of online service and interactions patrons  take for granted is not being met by libraries. Not even the most cutting edge, front line, tech savvy ones.
  2. The technologies and trends the most cutting edge, front line, tech savvy libraries are preparing may not longer be relevant by the time they implement them or become obsolete soon there after.

We’re barely treading water here people and I don’t another blog post about how your library can use Twitter or an article about website usability is going to keep us from downing. We’ve got to change, and I mean really change.”

True. So true. What is needed is acceptance and solid commitment from the top down–not an easy nut to crack.



Even British school children may be ahead of many of us soon.  This is an excerpt from a TechCruch post today:

“…The British government is proposing that Twitter is to be taught in primary (elementary) schools as part of a wider push to make online communication and social media a permanent part of the UK’s education system. And that’s not all. Kids will be taught blogging, podcasting and how to use Wikipedia alongside Maths, English and Science…Traditional education in areas like phonics, the chronology of history and mental arithmetic remain but modern media and web-based skills and environmental education now feature.”



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