Library as Service
By MortazaviBlog on Jan 08, 2007
My library is different from yours because we like different books. We have accumulated whatever book we like as a person, whether one or thousands of volumes.
A community library serves a similar function. They usually have book committees and patrons who order books and preserve them for others to read.
So is it with independent bookstores. They have to be selective. They do not have the square footage of large bookstore chains which amass large number of books, including the recently published. There is very little filtering. The goal in the large bookstore is to sell, to provide objects of consumption. The goal is not to collect.
The library, on the other hand, has traditionally collected. That has been its primary objective, not the provision of service or objects of consumption.
A good library is a place where you find things you would not expect to find in a local chain bookstore. Once the library reduces its activity to a lending service for what is current, it is no longer a library in the traditional sense. However, can any community library be more than just a lending service? Community libraries in the U.S. rarely have enough space to collect and preserve books for the long term. In the digital age and in an age where text is produced at a dizzying rate, how can any library serve its traditional function without an adequate infusion of resources and funds?
Within the five miles of my home there are a few community libraries. Other than their children's section, they can hardly afford the space to create and preserve a significant collection for the older population. However, without such preparation, the community members -- whether child or older -- can rearely experience the full breadth of the function a library serves.
A recent story in The Washington Post reminds us of the problems of the community library and where this wonderful insitution may be heading ("Hello Grisham--So Long Hemingway," WP, January 2, 2007, page A01).