Re: Simple Minds

Dave Long (
Sun, 20 Jun 1999 21:39:37 -0700

> Libraries are not victims of the information age (at least not yet) and to say
> that they are anachronisms in today's society is premature.

True. Some luddite observations:

A reference librarian can be a better resource than a search engine, and they
are much less painful to contact by cell phone.

Videotapes in a backpack beat the bandwidth I have on my pitiful landline.

I've come to enjoy the art shows at the library; they rotate much more
frequently than at the local MoA. It'd be difficult to do them justice with
current online technology.

And some synergistic observations:

Many libraries offer their catalog over the net; I remember one that also
allowed browsing by catalog number, so you could virtually browse a shelf and
allow serendipity to assist your searches. Given an account, they'd also make
and deliver copies for you, allowing for full couch potato mode.

Adding web browsers to libraries certainly fits in with the ideal (Carnegie's,
at least, I'm not enough up on library theory to know if there are any
others), and foot traffic at ours is up quite a bit because of them. I even
see quite a few books in the hands of people who wait in line for computer
time (shades of the days of batch!).


(paperback genre fiction seem to be a good counterexample to the idea that
"more information/IT is better". Someone still goes to the effort of
shelving, but other than that, our local libraries don't bother to track them,
despite having the infrastructure available due to its use for hardbacks. I
suppose one could attempt to mount a denial of service attack by not checking
out, but returning truckloads of paperbacks :-)