Why libraries matter, cont’d: The “future library”? It’s already here.

I’ll give Seth Godin credit: he thinks libraries should matter:

The library is no longer a warehouse for dead books. Just in time for the information economy, the library ought to be the local nerve center for information. […] We all love the vision of the underprivileged kid bootstrapping himself out of poverty with books, but now (most of the time), the insight and leverage is going to come from being fast and smart with online resources, not from hiding in the stacks.

The next library is a place, still. A place where people come together to do co-working and coordinate and invent projects worth working on together. Aided by […] a librarian who can bring domain knowledge and people knowledge and access to information to bear.

The problem is that the direction he thinks libraries should be going in… is already the direction that libraries have been going in, for years. Godin is a little late to the party; he’s criticizing an antiquated image of libraries and librarians that is simply no longer true. (And maybe that’s the real problem, as Toby Greenwalt of The Analog Divide suggests: the public wants libraries to be awesome, but doesn’t realize how awesome libraries already are.)

Godin goes on to cite the availability of books and films via e-readers and Netflix — and the abundant information on Wikipedia, online databases, and the Internet at large — as reasons why today’s libraries are in danger of becoming irrelevant. Wrong on all counts. Bobbi Newman at Librarian by Day dismantles this old argument better than I can, and you should go read her response in full.

(via The Dish; image via DaVinci Institute)

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