Evolution of the Book

Evolution of the Book

          “It’s the Content Stupid,” has become my mantra.  It is the title of an article that appeared in American Libraries. I have stressed the idea that getting rid of some of the 30,000 physical books currently housed in Borchard Library (the high school library where I work) is not a bad thing. The idea of access versus ownership (CLA, 2010) is frightening to many people. Replacing some print resources with digital format resources does not mean Borchard Library will have “less.” We should not be married to formats that do not meet users’ needs. What if we still had carousels with slides, 8MM films, or eschewed print for scrolls or hand-written manuscripts chained to library tables? As the format of the content evolves, the manner of providing library services must likewise evolve. But, this should not be misinterpreted as implying that the goal of library services must change. It simply means that we must closely examine the manner in which we provide library services. There are many facets of library planning to which the concept of change can be applied. The current buzz seems to be about the format in which the content is delivered to information users.

                “Hoarding is not collection development,” is the tagline of the library blog Awful Library Books. Librarians need to let go of outdated formats and unused content. Clearing the clutter will make it easier to locate the information that users want and need. In “Redesigning Library Services,” Michael Buckland discusses the ‘”owning versus borrowing’ trade-off.” This led me to an “aha!” moment –  we have never “owned” the content of the print materials in libraries. Print books are merely physical containers for the information; we cannot claim ownership of the copyrighted material contained within.

Accepting the concept that the format of information has and will continue to change necessitates the integration of change into the library planning (Casey & Savastinuk, 2007).There is no finish line when we should be able to say a library is “done.” In the process to moving much of the content of Borchard library from print and analog format to digital format, I realized that container for the information will continue to change. Decades from now the librarian at Borchard Library will likely have to explain why the digital forms of information need to be replaced with a format that does not currently exist. Ideally, the director of Borchard Library will always keep the school library relevant by developing proactive rather than reactive changes in providing library services.  Casey and Savastinuk (Chapter 2, 2007) assert the importance of goal-driven change. As long as there is focus on a goal, the library will be able to achieve the larger mission of libraries: connecting users with the information they desire.  Absence of growth and change will result in a stagnant or dead library.

Buckland, M. (1992) Redesigning library services: a manifesto. Retrieved from http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/Literature/Library/Redesigning/html.html

Casey, M. E. & Savastinuk, L. C. (2007) Library 2.0: a guide to participatory library service. Medford, NJ: Information Today.

Kelly, M. & Hibner, H. (2012). Awful Library Books [Web log]. Retrieved from http://awfullibrarybooks.net/

SFBook Reviews. (2012). The evolution of the book [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://sfbook.com/the-evolution-of-the-book.htm

Smith, S. E. & Mercer, H. (2010). It’s the content, Stupid: Librarians must help overcome resistance to research published online. American Libraries, 41(1-2).

Stephens, M. (2011). The hyperlinked library. Retrieved from http://dl.dropbox.com/u/239835/StephensHyperlinkedLibrary2011.pdf


One thought on “Evolution

  1. Great example you shared – content versus hoarding! I recall weeding my section of the adult collection – 200s – like mad in the 90s. The books were not going out and taking up so much room. What was left was the best of the collection. Your philosophical aha is intriguing…

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