This story, from Reuters, tells the story about a Finnish library book that was checked out in 1902, and quietly returned earlier this week. It's full of fun facts, such as the tidbit, in 2006, Finns visited the library an average of 11 times and checked out an average of 20 books each!
Whoa. No sooner had I posted the story below on the Marathon County Public Library and our urgent need to explain better to the general public why librarians need graduate degrees in the era of the Internet, than my wife forwarded me this article from the Gainesville (FL) Sun, an opinion piece called "Pull the plug on the library." It's by a library-hating fellow named George Elmore.
Elmore says that libraries have outlived their usefulness in the Internet Era; he wants to shut them down, whether they have professional librarians in them or not. Here's a brief quote:
Historically the public library has been a valued research institution, and has served that purpose admirably. But no more. With the advent of the Internet and Google, virtually no serious research is carried on in the library stacks.
He calls his local Alachua County Library District "Alachua County's version of Terri Schiavo, and life support is costing us nearly $20 million each year."
I've heard lots of folks, particularly those who aren't library users, say similar things about libraries, and I'm concerned that their numbers are growing. We had better get busy formulating better explanations of what we do post-Google, and why we do it.
I saw this story in The Stranger this week and thought that it was amusing enough to share with the teeming hordes who read this blog. It is about the writer's experiences working at a book store and all the books he's seen stolen over the years. It seemed like it held some good lessons for all of us planning on going into libraries, and brings up one area of training that we are not receiving in the iSchool: the 100 meter dash.