This is a repost from a professor at my alma mater — Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies (iSchool). http://infospace.ischool.syr.edu/2014/07/29/public-libraries-will-survive-despite-amazons-kindle-unlimited/
As a librarian and an author, I am very interested in this topic. The issues raised are somewhat hair-raising and not for the effect on libraries so much as the effect on individuals using the Internet due to companies wanting to cash in on Internet usage.
Public Libraries Will Survive Despite Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited
Let me give you a small example of what I mean. My wife recently had to be out of town for 2 weeks, so I got single-father duty. The majority of those days we were at the library. We were there so the kids could 3D print iPhone cases for their friends, borrow games, and join Minecraft groups. Did they check out books? Sure, on our way out…if we had time. Why was the public library doing all of these things? To meet the library’s mission of improving their community through knowledge creation. My kids were learning through books, sure, but also video games, Do It Yourself (DIY) printing, and by interacting with other folks in the community. In the coming weeks, the same library is having DIY sessions on home improvement, including electrical work…I NEED that.
Now, this might seem a flippant response to a major technology mover. After all, was there nothing in Amazon’s move that worried me? Oh yes…hell yes if I’m allowed to swear on this blog. It terrifies me and should terrify you how Amazon is currently working to break publishers and pursue a monopoly in book sales. They are making information unavailable to their customers trying to improve their position in the market. They are making titles harder or impossible to find out of a drive to the bottom line, not the good of the people.
But honestly, that is nowhere near as scary as things like network neutrality, where Internet Service Providers are trying to figure out how to monetize your viewing habits and pick the winners and losers in new Internet services. And that, frankly, pales in comparison to digital sharecropping, where huge corporations get massive billion-dollar valuations based on the content and work of their “users.” I mean, who is using whom when YouTube gets bought by Google for over a billion dollars and not one video producer saw a dime?
So are there scary things going on? Yup? Thank God we have some folks who are in the information industry and base their work on century-old values.Thank goodness there are information professionals that continue to maintain an internationally-distributed network of local knowledge hubs dedicated to community engagement and free and fair access to the life blood of democracy: information. Thank goodness there are librarians who long ago realized that it is not the size of your collection, but the reach of your community that really matters.
By the way, if you have $10 a month lying around, try Marvel Unlimited. If you are a comic book fan it is fricken incredible.
Have something to add? Join the discussion by leaving your thoughts in the comments below.
R. David Lankes is a professor and Dean’s Scholar for the New Librarianship at Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies and director of the Information Institute of Syracuse. His book, The Atlas of New Librarianship won the 2012 ABC-CLIO/Greenwood Award for the Best Book in Library Literature. Lankes is a passionate advocate for librarians and their essential role in today’s society.