Monday, November 24, 2008

The Name of the Rows

My mother recently sent me a copy (like, a literal photocopy copy) of this article from Cincinnati Magazine that details the changes the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County has been making in its quest to be a more "21st Century Library." We spend so much time in Libraryland navel gazing over this issue in our literature, I thought it was interesting to see a popular press examination of the issue.

For you in the tl;dr crowd, the basic takeaway message of the article is twofold:
  1. There are some unique main branch services are being lost because they are collapsing service points and making subject specialists into generalists.
  2. The average library user doesn't care and usage stats have gone up since the changes have been made.
Although this is about a public library, we in our academic library can probably learn something from the experiences up in Cincinnati.

1 comment:

Jen Bartlett said...

Great article! One thing in particular stuck out for me.

NKU professor Robert Wallace referred to the pre-ML/21 library as an "outstanding research library." Juxtapose that with library director Kim Fender's comment that the change is "based not on what our perceptions of what people should be doing in libraries, but what we actually saw people doing in libraries." One would think that she saw some serious research going on, but apparently not enough.

A question for us: "Should UK Libraries change to reflect what people are ACTUALLY DOING in the library, or what they SHOULD be doing?" (hopefully most people are doing productive work, i.e. studying, rather than having a pizza party in a group study room). Realizing that we have numerous constituencies to satisfy, how far should academic libraries go to support the "non-research" wants and needs of our patrons?