Monday, April 25, 2005

"Last One Out Turn off the Lights..."

This is the main title of a recently published book. The full title is Last One Out Turn Off The Lights: Is This the Future of American and Canadian Libraries? It is a collection of essays by Canadian and US librarians, many of them known to me (people often express surprise about how many Canadian librarians I know...don't forget though, there's 10 times less of them than US librarians). The introduction "Change the Lightbulb or Flip the Switch--Our Choice!" is written by the two editors Susan Cleyle and Louise McGillis and starts off:
Feeling good about being a librarian in the twenty-first century? Think you have a handle on the technology and the many different information choices available today? Let's face it, libraries and librarians are perfectly situated to shine in the information age; after all our business is the acquisition, organization, and dissemination of information. If we are feeling so confident about the future, why is the literature filled with articles trying to find a place for us to fit, and why are we in a state of collective amazement that we may not be the information resource of choice for many of the technologically savvy users of today? We are no longer in the forefront--we are losing our users, and as a result, librarians are being challenged to shape up or be permanently relegated to the sidelines.

The essays in the book address five main topics: libraries and the web, library as place, getting services to the desktop, certification of librarians, and the future of library associations.

I enjoyed many of the articles and found useful things in them, but my favourite was actually the epilogue, written by Waynn Pearson, the Library Director at the Cerritos Library which won awards for its design. Waynn begins his essay by linking the redesign of the library to his reading The Experience Economy: Work is Theatre and Every Business a Stage, a book I've read, liked and thought more librarians should read (along with The Dream Society: How the Coming Shift from Information to Imagination Will Transform your Business and Brand Lands, Hot Spots and Cool Spaces: Welcome to the Third Place and the Total Marketing Experience)

Here's what Waynn's advice is on creating a vibrant library (but read the book for all the details)
* Design for the common user
* Look outside the library for ideas
* Develop a story line
* Don't limit yourself to providing information
* Communicate with more than words
* Get out from behind the desk
* Create gathering places
* Romance your users
* Play your part
* Make it fun

Not much wailing and gnashing of teeth in this collection of essays, just a lot of energetic, dedicated librarians, experienced and not so experienced, looking to "resole our comfortable shoes and [go] where users want to take us."

You all go!

1 comment:

waltc said...

Oh, you can't wave that red flag at me and not expect a response:

"don't forget though, there's 10 times less of them than US librarians"

There may be one-tenth as many Canadian librarians as there are US librarians, and there may be 10 times as many US librarians, but "10 times less" is impossible.

For there to be 10 times fewer (not less), you'd need "negative 1.3 million" Canadian librarians, which doesn't work in the real world. "90% fewer" works...