Notes of a Binge Thinker

Thoughts from NTLP's Executive Director

Are Libraries going through an Identity Crisis?

I have received a valid point about the theme of my Executive Director’s Column for 2010.

Rachel Orozco, director of the Smith Public Library in Wylie, Texas, emailed me this today.

I didn’t realize libraries were in an identity crisis.  “Identity crisis” has such a negative connotation.

Aren’t we the “Ever Evolving Library”? (maybe “evolving” is too Darwinian) I am fortunate.  I don’t think that I have ever worked in a library with an identity crisis. I have worked in libraries who have evolved successfully to meet patron needs. (Fort Worth, Dallas, Arlington, Grand Prairie, Pasadena, UNT, Wylie)

“Identity Crisis” smacks of loss and desperation. I suggest that the focus of 2010 be “The Ever Evolving Public Library” or something like that..find another word for “evolving” so that we don’t offend the creationists or the intelligent design advocates (I do have some political sense.)  How about the “Ever Evolving Creative and Intelligently Designed Library”?

I did a quick lookup of identity crisis and this is what I found on WordNet Search:

(distress and disorientation (especially in adolescence) resulting from conflicting pressures and uncertainty about one’s self and one’s role in society)

What do you think?  Are we in an identity crisis?

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Written by amwlkaw

December 8, 2009 at 10:38 pm

Posted in Misc

One Response

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  1. I do think there is an identity crisis in the library world today. Though many individual librarians and libraries are doing a good job of adapting to change, there are many others who are struggling with it or resisting it.

    The two areas that seem to be causing the most stress among librarians are technology and the changing service needs of the patrons.

    Patrons need us to be able to help them with programs and problems on computers, help them search and use the Internet, help them load e-audiobooks on their personal devices, provide them with the technological tools needed to access our services remotely (using their preferred communication programs, when possible), etc.

    In addition, a growing number of patrons today want and need services that extend beyond the basics (ex. books and storytimes), and are not interested in libraries as “quiet places.”

    Library schools need to start taking technology training seriously, but individual librarians also need to accept that keeping up with new technologies and developing the skills to go with them are part of the being a professional.

    Jesse Ephraim

    December 9, 2009 at 4:42 pm


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