RE: Not sure what this means

Posting to NGC4LIB

Laval Hunsucker wrote:

There have always been dumb users and clever users [ and a fluent continuum in between ], and there always will be. I have known, and know, quite a few in the latter category ; some of whom are students, some faculty members, some neither.

I don’t want to label people who do not know how to use the traditional tools “dumb”; rather, the task is for us to build something that will be relevant to the needs of today’s users. Expecting people to search and use materials the same way they did back in the 1960s is unrealistic.

When automobiles arrived, they did not shoot all of the horses, as Shawne pointed out, but fewer and fewer people needed to know about horses, their peculiarities, their noises and smells. Eventually, almost nobody needed to know any of that and horses ceased to be a factor in their lives. Instead, people had to learn the peculiarities of automobiles, and their noises and smells. It would be unfair today to expect people to know how to ride a horse or hitch up a team to a wagon, and to label as “dumb” those who don’t know these things.

The fact is, times have changed. For the moment, people still have no choice except to use a library catalog if they want to access the books within local collections, so the majority use them more or less incompetently. (I was almost totally incompetent before I became a librarian, but I didn’t realize it) But when the Google Books-Publishers agreement is approved eventually (which could be any moment!), and 80% or more of what they need is online at the click of a button, while the rest will be very easy to ignore, then *everything* can and probably must change.

How will the library world react to the eventual approval? Tough to say, but judging by the glacially slow movement of FRBR and RDA (and I won’t criticize them here), the library world will not be able to adapt quickly enough and may be overwhelmed. Perhaps people will still demand paper copies, but I think most will be satisfied with what they can get at the click of a button. To me, it’s obvious: librarians must turn their focus away from paper since their patrons have.

I don’t mean to be alarmist, but to me, the fact there will be major changes is absurdly easy to predict and it seems best to prepare instead of suddenly “being surprised”. There’s a lot we can do, if we just change our focus.