I went into my local library over the weekend and I was disappointed that they had got it wrong.
They had the self service check out where you could scan your book and swipe your card, but they still had it wrong.
They had a nice performance area with several levels of seats, but there was no one there.
They had a wide selection of fiction works, media to take out and magazines. They had an extensive array of reference materials and even some computers, but they still had it wrong.
They had staff who were experience and knowledgable. They had a long and wide service desk and this was part of the problem.
I walked into the library, rummaged around, found a book and left all with out ever talking to the librarians. This was where it went wrong.
The librarians with all of their accumulated wisdom, extensive experience, passion for books and understanding of system, stayed behind there thick, wide desk. They were the end point of the process if I had to withdraw a book or item that required a charge or required some degree of intervention. Other than that I was on my own.
Why is it that the experts with the passion for books are the last point of call? why are they the end of the process? Why are they only relevant if I need help or if I need to pay?
Surely in the modern library, the librarians are the starting point of the journey.
Wouldn’t it be great if they can out from behind their fortified issues desk and became relevant to me as I tried to find the object of my curiosity rather than as the cashier? I struggle too in the days of self check out, where you can demagnetize the book yourself, issue it at a compact workstation where you can perform the cataloging functions as to why they need a huge desk that keeps them separate from the customers?
Why are libraries, even ones built in the last few years, still designed with the librarians as the end point. Where the apparent role of the librarian is to protect the book stock or to issue the book.
Walk into your own library. Does a librarian come and greet you and ask how they can help? Do they share the accumulated wisdom and scholarship they have? Do they exude the passion and love they have for reading? Or do you have my experience and never encounter a librarian at all?
And what will happen soon when eBooks are much much more common.