Monday, May 07, 2007

 

Baby You Can Drive my Library

Just wanted to point out the anonymous comment on this LJ article on "The Women Who Drive Library Technology," because it made me laugh out loud. (See the little "talkback" box on the upper right.)

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Monday, February 26, 2007

 

Gotta Have It?

I was watching live TV last night, which is rare since we made the DVR plunge. Finished my book during the first commercial break, and was too wrapped up in blankets and cats to go get more reading material, providing plenty of time for my brain to ramble during the next few breaks. (Incidentally, I'm amazed at articles like this recent NYT one mentioning that DVR owners don't fast forward through ads as much as people originally thought -- I mean, who wouldn't, if they could?)

Anyway, where my mind rambled is thus: over the past 10-15 years, I've gone from a dinky TV with no cable to a 36" TV with 150something satellite channels and DVR... from a dialup modem to cable modem... I've invested in a cell phone and in Netflix and in various other ways to keep myself and my family entertained and connected, and I'm not particularly unique nor particularly ahead of the curve -- my parents even had DVR a couple years before we got it!. Of course, these various investments come with their various costs: there goes $15/month for Netflix, there's $58/month for DirecTV, there's another $47 for the cell and another $61 (thank you, Comcast!) for the Internet.

I think these types of investments are one reason people don't feel particularly concerned about helping libraries absorb the costs involved in adding new technologies and new formats. Because, well, we all have had to deal with it, haven't we? If we decide to add Netflix to our entertainment mix, no one is going to add a Netflix bonus onto our paychecks, so if our neighborhood library decides to start offering DVDs or additional Internet terminals or what have you, they don't get an entertainment or technology bonus either.

But the difference lies in that libraries often have to invest in new technologies and formats to remain relevant in the lives of their communities. If I start feeling a financial pinch, the only investment I really need to keep here is the Internet one. I can cancel Netflix or cancel satellite TV with no real risk -- I might have more free time, get more books read, but be less able to converse knowledgeably on movies and shows, oh well. Libraries can't -- and shouldn't -- go back on the investments they've made, nor can they stop buying materials in various popular formats or cut back on the T1 line this month. Perhaps we need to be better able to explain why adding new technologies and formats is more essential for libraries than for individuals.

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