One simple story to illustrate why I think libraries are in trouble. One simple story that should scare the shit out of you, especially if you're in a public library.
Yesterday my wife caught the tail end of a local TV news broadcast she thought was her mother's, friend's, son's daughter dying in a car crash. She immediately went to the station's web site and found nothing. She searched Google, again found nothing. She tried the Buffalo News site, again nothing. She called her sister who looked in the paper, she saw nothing. He sister tried some internet searching, again nothing. Had enough yet? She then called her other sister, who tried something else, and may have even called someone else, again nothing. This went on and on for most of the day I guess.
Smart, very well educated people trying to find one simple small piece of information and failing. It turns out she lived and died in a small town near the Pennsylvania border. The local newspaper was indexed anywhere online, nor did the Buffalo papers carry the story. Why it was on the Buffalo TV news I have no idea.
So when I got home I heard the story (it was much longer and more interesting than what I wrote) about how she thought someone died, but she can't find anything about her. It wasn't in Google, so she thought she might've been dreaming when she saw the story on the news. Lucky for her, she married a librarian! My first thought was to call the library out in the town we thought she lived in, and ask them to look in the local paper. These are not stupid people. The reaction was the same from both my wife, the MBA, and her sister, another MBA:
"You can do that? Libraries can answer questions like that?"
They thought of Google (first), they thought of TV, they thought of newspapers, and they even thought of other people. It never occurred to them to ask a librarian. And one of them is married to a librarian.