Libraries See Opening as Bookstores Close

From the New York Times:

As librarians across the nation struggle with the task of redefining their roles and responsibilities in a digital age, many public libraries are seeing an opportunity to fill the void created by the loss of traditional bookstores. Indeed, today’s libraries are increasingly adapting their collections and services based on the demands of library patrons, whom they now call customers. Today’s libraries are reinventing themselves as vibrant town squares, showcasing the latest best sellers, lending Kindles loaded with e-books, and offering grassroots technology training centers. Faced with the need to compete for shrinking municipal finances, libraries are determined to prove they can respond as quickly to the needs of the taxpayers as the police and fire department can.

“I think public libraries used to seem intimidating to many people, but today, they are becoming much more user-friendly, and are no longer these big, impersonal mausoleums,” said Jeannette Woodward, a former librarian and author of “Creating the Customer-Driven Library: Building on the Bookstore Model.”

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the barbarians have won

This process of commercializing public libraries started long ago. By the 1990s there were already long term strategic plans in place to move towards a bookstore model as I warned in my book Barbarians at the Gates of the Public Library. Today I believe the model is more accurately described as the amazon.com model of information/book delivery, especially if you include the social media aspect of amazon.com. Social media in this context is simply a marketing tool to drive consumer demand. ---- Ed D'Angelo

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