Libraries 101

People have strong beliefs about “libraries.” There are true believers and skeptics. Our work at TASCHA, recently changed from CIS, has been thinking about libraries as mechanisms for community development, especially outside the US. We have been trying to step back and focus on what they DO and what FUNCTIONS they serve.

I understand libraries as incredibly valuable social spaces. I have witnessed generally welcoming spaces where people can read, get info and hang out, usually without being pestered to cough up dough. I have seen also seen libraries with far more wide ranging and radical visions. I have also seen sad libraries where people did not engage, for many different reasons. In the US libraries have played a key role in public information and lifelong education. Libraries fill an ecological niche that is unique, although their functions overlap with other “public” institutions such as NPR and public schools.Given the cost of technology and the importance of digital information, it’s worth it for our social, political and community well-being to think about how libraries can adapt to the changes induced by technology and our social behaviors.

Libraryman, a fierce, effervescent and energetic advocate for libraries, (and a bunch of crowdsourced allies) has been pushing the conversation on opportunities for libraries to adapt. Today he got a little love when BoingBoing picked up his video. I couldn’t look away:) Congrats Michael.

Click here to view the embedded video.