Finished September 16
BiblioTech: Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of Google by John Palfrey
Unlike most books looking at the role of libraries, this book is written by someone not trained as a librarian, but who has come into the library world through work. Palfrey is the Head of School at Phillips Academy in Andover, and led the effort to reorganize the Harvard Law School Library. He is also the founding chairman of the Digital Public Library of America.
While Palfrey acknowledges the world of information we now live in, he makes good arguments for the library being more important than ever before.
He looks at libraries in their role as equalizing access to information, education, jobs, and technology. The library is a safe place, one of the few where people from many walks of life come together. He also acknowledges the threats to libraries, the struggle to adapt to rapid change, lack of funding, and lower government support. The book is divided into themed chapters, each looking at a different aspect of libraries and using examples to make the point.
The first chapter, crisis, outlines the situation and the threats facing libraries. The second chapter looks at who uses libraries and how they use libraries. The next chapter looks at the spaces that libraries occupy and offer, both physical and virtual. The fourth addresses platforms and how the move to the cloud impacts libraries.
Then we move to those libraries trying something different, in a chapter titles Hacking Libraries. There are many forward-looking librarians moving their libraries into new and interesting territory. The following chapter looks at the human network of librarians, a sharing community like few others. Then the topic is preservation, with a focus on preserving culture. Following this is a chapter on the important role libraries play in education. Finishing up the topics is a chapter on law and libraries, looking at copyright and privacy in particular.
He concludes with a chapter emphasizing the importance of libraries and what we stand to lose if they don't adapt to meet the needs of their communities. As yet another well written book on the importance of moving to a community-led model, this outlines many important aspects to consider for those libraries serious about planning their futures.