Monday, March 22, 2010

a review on the future of libraries concludes today

Here's Patrick Wintour in The Guardian

Key to saving libraries: free internet access and Sunday opening

Well, we have offered free internet access for many years now, and the 'decline in use' they perceived occurring only happened over the 'past five years'.

In Central and three of the branches we also offer free WiFi (even for non-members).

We also offer Facebook, YouTube and MySpace already.

We sort of have Sunday opening (the ground floor of the Central Library is open 11-3, with access to half a dozen first-come first-served PCs with short sessions).

Room for Improvement

It does seem (from informal chats I have had with users) that being open in the evenings would be popular (as libraries often were when I was younger) at least until 20:00.

And users would also like the library to be fully open on Sundays (in this secular world the Central Library, at least, is surrounded by shoppers on Sunday).

But then the council would have to pay staff more, or hire extra, etc - and that seems unlikely to happen. Without re-investment, however, I imagine use will continue to decline.

So not a lot of new news on how to reverse the trend, from this two year survey.

We won't be allowed to charge for e-books, apparently, if and when we ever get any...

Oh, and they suggest we should staff libraries with 'volunteers', increasing the resemblance between us and a charity shop full of second-hand tat, quite apart from de-skilling the place.
I suggest we have the government run by volunteers, after all, what qualifications and experience do you need to become a politician?

Sigh. Oh, IMHO (see disclaimer) I'll throw in an 'only joking' smiley - sorry emoticion - for luck.


You'd think in these days of 'saving the planet' that sharing resources might have its day, at last (without being considered 'socialism', totally unnecessary or something just for the poor).

IMHO (he said hurriedly, like Ian Hislop throwing in an 'allegedly').

More general links about library stories on the Guardian blog

Post Script

Where do these people live? Or perhaps they just base the judgements on their assumptions about libraries (without actually visiting them). Here's UK AuthorITy:

Libraries to dust down their image and embrace internet age

Or perhaps Cardiff is simply ahead of the game (?) Apart from ebooks, that is, and that's another whole can of worms... Copyright, you say?

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