If Libraries had shareholders...

Over on The O'Reilly Radar Peter Brantley takes a look at some stats. Though, he says, they do not reflect on the total value of libraries, and they surely do not pass judgment on the highly skilled information specialists that staff them. They do suggest that something momentous has changed in the fundamental environment that libraries operate within. And one has to think: if libraries had shareholders, would they, like newspapers, be in the midst of a gut-wrenching, brake-screeching exercise in redefinition?


They would have competent management that did not debate the purchase of a $120 trash can for 45 minutes with all management staff.

If libraries had shareholders they would weed the incompetent and lazy staff.

But they don't so mediocrity rules.

The author's choice of "value" and "shareholders" are interesting here in that they connote a fiscal, economic relationship between libraries and their services. I agree. Our collective cognitive dissonance of attacking private market structures (See Open Access) while concurrently lamenting Googlization has exposed us as not only being confused, but utterly dumb. The reality is that "value" is now determined by our stakeholders to be just using our infrastructure, web-accessible workstations, to access resources not affiliated with the library (e.g. subscribed to). We've become on-ramps....that's it.

How to regain value in our libaries?? Embrace the concept of an information hierarchy based on economics that our profession owes its very existence to. Copyright law and intellectual property rights should be welcomed, not attacked.

Like there are never boneheads in the private sector.

I don't see the analogy as being apt.Shareholders can sell their shares at any time. College students can't just "defund" part of their tuition that goes to the library. Administrators can make cuts but, realistically, how big do you think they are? Colleges, city councils, etc. move very, very slowly.Certainly these studies are troubling. And we have a lot of work to do especially when it comes to useability and design.But this "let me tell you silly ladies how it works in the Man World of Real Work" attitude is nonsense.How many times will people write our obituaries before they realize that we are hard to kill?

"If libraries had shareholders they would weed the incompetent and lazy staff."Ha! Sometimes you really crack me up.

"How many times will people write our obituaries before they realize that we are hard to kill?"How many times will we ignore those obits before we relize just how many people will never miss us when we're gone.

I can't help but feel that the "libraries are goners" meme is a way for bloggers and article writers to get fast attention. Everybody freaks out, a few scattered statistics are cited and nothing is ever really concluded or decided.It's like the silly terrorism threat level color code thing. What, I'm supposed to wet myself now that it's mauve and yesterday it was ochre?I'd like to see a moratorium on the "booga booga booga" articles and posts and more stuff about how to modernize and adapt.

Where I work the idiots are isolated and removed quickly. Then again I don't work somewhere with shareholders but at one of the big 4 firms, but same general principle.

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