Listen up, libraries!

July 7, 2009 at 7:30 am

I’m reading Tribes by Seth Godin, and I’m bookmarking a lot. Here’s a quote that is really pertinent to library-land these days:

many people (many really good people) spend all day trying to defend what they do, trying to sell what they’ve always sold, and trying to prevent their organizations from being devoured by the forces of the new. It must be wearing them out. Defending mediocrity is exhausting.

So true! One of the most common arguments I hear from librarians is this insistence that the quality of information we offer through our careful searching and vetting is so much better than Google/Wikipedia/flavor of the month/whatever. But you know what? It’s not. Quality is not just determined by content alone but by our ability to get that content to the people who need it, when they need it. Google and Wikipedia get that, and the quality of content they deliver is good enough for the vast majority of people. If we’re chasing people around trying to convince them that Google and Wikipedia aren’t good enough, we’ve already lost. The quality of our information sources is meaningless if no one uses them. If we can’t come up with a better raison d’etre, we are goners.

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