Re: Bill Clinton: Create Internet agency

Posting to NGC4LIB

On 27/05/2011 08:18, Bernhard Eversberg wrote:

> Am 26.05.2011 17:41, schrieb Laval Hunsucker:
>> The point is that libraries know how people work.

> ‘It’s very important that we find a way to link library resources to the whole world of information resources not focusing exclusively on bibliographic information,’ Deanna Marcum in a statement about the “Bibliographic Framework Transition Initiative”

This statement of Laval’s really surprised me. I don’t know if libraries know how people work. And I completely agree with Deanna Marcum.

I view libraries in a much more mechanistic fashion–literally. To me, a library is a machine, needing fuel, lubricating oil, has an exhaust, mechanics to replace parts and keep everything running smoothly, while  people of all sorts come to use the library machine for whatever purposes they have. So, perhaps a decent analogy is to think of a library like a train station, where there are all kinds of people hurrying to and fro, people who work there as baggage handlers, ticket takers, train mechanics, engineers, etc. and then there are the passengers. Some passengers have more experience than others and can get through the chaos of the train station more quickly than others with less experience. Each train station is a little different and even highly experienced travellers must acquaint themselves with a new station and may need help. Yet, before automobiles and airplanes, if somebody wanted to get from one place to another relatively quickly, there were precious few choices except to use the trains, and if you wanted to use the trains, you had to adapt yourself to the entire railroad system. This was the situation for a long time.

Then came automobiles, and then airplanes and airports, and there are lots of conveniences of these choices over trains, often including much cheaper prices. Trains had to completely rethink their purpose and some did not do a very good job at it. I think that libraries are in the same situation as the train stations back when airplanes and automobiles were becoming popular. Still, people have to adapt themselves to the automobile system by learning to drive and getting licenses, car insurance, learning how to do basic maintenance on the car, and so on, or learn the airplane system with all of their rules for what can and cannot be taken on board, what documents you need, etc.

What is important to keep in mind, and this relates to Laval’s “libraries know how people work” is that patrons coming to the library are focused on getting the information they want, *not* on the means of  getting it. They want the means to be easy, cheap and with very little stress. This is like autos, trains and airplanes, which are all *means to an end* (arriving at my destination) and are not the end in itself.

Once we accept these sorts of what I think are facts, facing the future may become easier. I really like train stations, at least some of them. Some love cars or airplanes. But most just want to get where they are going safely, quickly and easily. Some searchers really like libraries but the primary focus in libraries should not be on the means available to the patrons, but on their ends. When we can provide the ends that  they want, the means we should provide will become clearer.