my dream library

my dream library.

on the weekends, when the sun is shining in and I've had a lot of
coffee and all is right with the world, I think about what kind of
library I'd have, if I had my own library. This is, of course, crazy
talk. Libraries exist in communities, they're not started or
maintained by egomaniacal librarians who need a new project. So, this
is a thought exercise. I honor and respect the traditions that
libraries are steeped in, I'm just curious about what elements of our
new technological reality could be useful to the sorts of institutions
libraries are. Here are some things I've been thinking about, in that

  1. What if our catalogs were an overgrown version of really good personal library software
    instead of some sort of awkwardly-scaled version of very powerful
    all-in-one ordering/circulating/cataloging enterprise software? Check
    out Delicious Library, from that link, and tell me your patrons
    wouldn't love it. [see also: usability & assessment]
  2. What if you could use the collective experience of your patrons to add to the library's knowledge base? Have patrons add reviews, suggest their own supplementary “subject headings“, use the library web site for interactivity not just passive reception of library content.
  3. What
    if the items in your library catalog had fixed URLs so patrons could
    link to library records from their web sites when discussing items the
    library has, sort of like IMDB has short, linkable human-friendly URLs? What's the book equivalent for IMDB, and don't say Amazon because you know it's not true.
  4. We'd be open when people wanted to use the library, not just when librarians wanted to work. How would we know? We'd ask them. [some surveys: here, here, here and here]
  5. In my library, we'd fix your computer for you. We'd work the information booth at your event. We'd answer your questions any time and any place, not just when you come to us and wait at the reference desk for us to be free. We'd save your time, even if it sometimes meant sacrificing our own.

changes in the economic reality of libraries or shifts in the work/home
paradigm would need to occur before we could really do some of these
things, but others just require a change in mindset, or a shift in
priorities. A girl can dream, can't she?  [ : a library weblog]

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