Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Future-Proofing the Book Business with Library Journal

This is an exciting time for publishing. The culture has shifted. What readers want, how they interact with words, and the way they read have changed, thanks in largest part to technology.

The 8/15/2008 edition of Library Journal features a cover story on "Future-Proofing," where LJ emailed their "Movers & Shakers," a group of industry innovators, for their ideas on how to ensure a vital library for the future. That same issue includes the articles "In Ebook Race, iPod Touch Is a Contender" and "Broward Library Circs Sony Readers" about how the Broward County Library system in Ft. Lauderdale has started a program to loan Sony ebook reading devices. Beyond LJ, I don't think it is an exaggeration to say that I have heard, read, or used the word "Kindle" every day in the last six months.

I've written before that I believe the printed book itself is a brilliant piece of technology--portable, durable, compact, user friendly, instant, economical. Books also have aesthetic and emotional value that will keep them around for a long, long time. I find it interesting and encouraging though, that our entire industry is having similar conversations about the future. I've excerpted pieces from the "Future-Proofing" article below. Substitute the word "library" with "publisher," or "book," or "author," and see what it means to you.

Hire people who eat, breathe, and sleep libraries, information, and community—and want to do those things at your library. These are the people who will relish finding new, innovative ways to connect their community to the library.—David Lee King, '08

We can't continue to do what we've always done—we need latitude from administrations and funding sources to take risks and be proactive and responsive.—Jennifer Nelson, '08

Out Front
We need to dismantle systematically the barriers to change that discourage innovation and creativity; we can pay close attention to the wildly successful experiments happening in the private sector and find applications for them in our libraries.—John Blyberg, '06

I believe relevancy is the key, not sustainability. It can be detrimental to libraries to become too focused on trying to achieve long-term sustainability that we miss out on remaining relevant to our communities' current, vital (and, yes, even sometimes short-term) needs. —Helene Blowers, '07

Social Capital
Libraries represent thoughtfulness, peace, and possibility, and we should strive to keep them as transparent and accessible as possible. —Char Booth, '08

Local Value
A 21st-century library may be more digital or more technological, but the items collected by a special collection will continue to bring the patron into the building.—Mark Greek, '08

Don't stay behind the desk...or even in the library. Go out as much as you can. Do outreach in all languages, form a multitude of community partnerships, meet people where they live and congregate. Involve them. “Nothing for us without us”!—Lynne Cutler, '04

Design Thinking
We must use design thinking to create great library experiences for our users, because when people can get their information anywhere, all that can differentiate our libraries is the unique experience we can deliver—but it must be based on personal relationships, it must deliver meaning to the user, and it must be well designed. —Steven J. Bell, '02

The future of libraries lies in being community convergence points or gathering places—the place that you go to not only to get books and information but to access services, the Internet, and literacy courses. —Caroline Hallsworth, '03

Our existing organizations of knowledge (Dewey, LOC), our existing architectures, and the library cultures that support them, are crippling libraries and threaten our future vibrancy and place within society.
Bonnie Peirce, ‘07

While it is important to work as an individual it is critical in future-proofing to also work within in the community with elegant perspectives about others and connections to community and funding sources.—Lisa Weaver, ‘06

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