Thursday, March 20, 2014

My Beef with the Bibliotech "Library"...

My problem with Bibliotech, "The nation's first bookless library," is quite simply two-fold.  The tagline is a complete misnomer.

It isn't completely "bookless," but it sounds "cooler" and "hipper" to say that it's the first [insert adjective] library in the nation.  It does have books, just not in paper format, or do we not count e-books as books anymore?  Instead of paper and pulp, the words are in 0's and 1's.  "Bookless" makes it sound edgy, like it's really a more pioneering endeavor.  A library with no books means we put the cool back in the library.  What can be more attention-grabbing than a headline with a contradiction.

While it may be funded from the library portion of the budget, let's keep it real, it is a tech-lab.  Other libraries already have tech-labs; some with video equipment and some with maker-bots.  I doubt that they make their staff wear polo uniforms.  They wanted to recreate an Apple store, so they did.  Do you know the last thing I think of when I walk by an Apple store, the library.  Why do so many libraries want to be an Apple store??  Again with the wanting to appear hip and relevant, how about you just focus on being a library.  I must admit, this rant might be influenced by my intense dislike of Apple in general.

If this is the future of public libraries than this is just sad because if I wanted to wear matching polo's to work, I would work for an electronic store and have a job title with "Geek" or the ego-inflating "Genius" in it.  To all you public libraries that what to one-up Bibliotech to get some media attention, here's the next future evolution of the public library.  Build a room with tables, chairs, electrical outlets (throw in some USB charging ports to let the public know that you're really with it), and wi-fi.  That's all you'll need and you can bill yourself as the first ever 'bookless, staff-free library.'

We could argue the semantics of the word "library" for days on end and we could argue the merits of it evolving with constantly changing technology and patron needs.  It reminds me of one MLIS class where the professor started the lecture by posing the question, "What is information?  Is [insert noun] information?"  This led to the majority of class going back and forth about what they thought information was while the professor just sat behind the desk without saying a word and watched us argue.  I could only assume that the professor thought that after an hour and a half  spent arguing would lead us to walk out of the room reaching the zenith of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs: Self-actualization.  But it only left me frustrated because I walked out realizing I just wasted my time and gas driving to campus to listen to my classmates argue for over an hour without any input or guidance from the professor.  Wow, I really went off on a tangent there.

TL;DR: Bibliotech is not bookless: the books are digital, Bibliotech is not a library: it's a tech-lab.  This is NOT the future of public libraries.  I don't want to wear polo uniforms to the library, although it would lead to less ironing...

::last minute edit::
I don't have anything against libraries creating and offering tech labs or maker spaces or creator crevices, whatever.  I do not like the misinformation that this is the future of the public library, that the next evolutionary step in public libraries is simply a room filled with just computers is depressing and this is coming from a self-proclaimed non-reader.

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