Thursday’s Musing: The Value of Perception, the Librarian and the Library Space


(photo (c) 2009 Dorli Photography, available here)


As collections are becoming more electronic, the value of the library space is becoming increasingly questioned. A trend among articles written by non-librarians is to link the edifice with the profession: the librarian works in a library, technology is making libraries obsolete, therefore librarians will also become obsolete (librarians are a dead end job according to this article from Yahoo Education, and librarians are a dying breed according to this article from Digital Book World). Even articles that attempt to exclaim the value of librarianship focus heavily on the library spaces, rather than the professionals in those spaces. For example, this recent CNN article kindly relates how libraries are thriving, but focuses almost completely on the edifices themselves: the architecture of the Seattle Public Library, 27 fascinating buildings, the library as a community space, and a photographer’s book of photos of public libraries are all given substantial ink (pixels?). Again, the perception is the edifice and profession are one and the same, so what actually occurs when the physical space is downsized/eliminated? Continue reading “Thursday’s Musing: The Value of Perception, the Librarian and the Library Space”

A Bad Week for Tech? That depends!

Apparently Google Reader was not the only tech tool to meet its demise this week. Others, like AltaVista (Remember them?) and Yahoo! Matrix (What?) also bit the dust. This great slideshow from CNN today walks us through those “services that were”. A trip down memory lane? Not quite, for some of these. 😉

To our readers in the USA, have a safe and happy 4th of July!

Monday’s Musing: Working from Home Not Working?

I was surprised to read an article on CNN today regarding the move by Yahoo!’s new CEO to end work at home opportunities for the company’s employees.  Marissa Mayer, herself a known work-a-holic, is pulling the plug on this privilege in the interest of fostering greater collaboration among Yahoo! employees.  This in the interest of better serving the company’s customers.  So far, employee reaction has been mixed.  No doubt, Yahoo!’s remote employees are going to feel the pinch most.  If you are not near the company’s offices, do you move or move on?

As a manager, I often hear from my staff that work from home opportunities would not only be desirable but the ultimate step towards helping them develop a better work-life balance.  There is merit to this, of course.  Some days, the chance to stay in your pajamas and work from the plush comforts of your sofa seems like a real mental relief.  But I also know that there are numerous drawbacks.  Working from home opens us to more distractions, the potential of actually working harder than we need to or than is healthy (It is easier to work through lunch and well into the evening if we can do so with a cup of tea and the TV on in the background) and it does indeed have a definite effect on collaboration.

Today’s technology is great in that it can connect us to anyone, anywhere, at any time.  But what is the quality of that connection versus being physically and mentally present?  Just how much of a meeting of the minds is there when we become simply voices and/or images on a network?  I think this especially become problematic when you are working with others to deliver a vital service to customers or users.  In the library and information industry, visibility is key.  My gut feeling and my experience is that this visibility is a tangible, real physical presence.  It is as much about people skills and literally pressing the flesh as it is about tech skills and pressing the right buttons.

Am I being shortsighted?  There are certainly days when I wish I had simply stayed at home.  But I know how important my presence really is.  Maybe I am overvaluing it or simply being (gasp) “old fashioned” in my not so old age.

What do you think?  I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences!

John AKA The iBraryGuy