In my work I struggle most with three library problems (that might just be social problems).. they drive me crazy. Firstly, the lack of public internet access. Poor investment in public networks is undertandable for the confederate life of Canadians and by understandable I mean predictable.. not acceptable. I don’t know if you have seen the story of the transformation a new net might do for the town of Olds but contemplate it.. what can it mean for Canadians to gain the edge, instead of lagging the development cycle of new technology.
Problem two for me..Closed data sources. And reading sources…. Libraries have done due diligence for about fifteen years helping publishers and web authors bring their content to market. We are done like dinner. STOP VOLUNTEERING hours of public service time or teaching time to software training for a source that doesn’t love us back.
The final problem is the drift to the middle. With digitalization (yes I hate that word but whatever) with new digital nation trends society IS MONOLITHIC. Learning is monolithic, citizenship.. even personalization is monolithic. And who wins in the age of Ozymandius? The middle that’s who (save the pain of their coming hubris). Decision makers and those who empower them dominate. I am talking about you and me. The working class, middle years people ‘in charge’ .. tyrants I tell you — ages 20-60. Damn them.
Libraries could fix the problems. But probably not alone and not with a shh shh shh attitude.
Especially in the last 5yrs libraries have done the much to redress social problems around diversity, open access and digital public space. But we need to speak clearly and articulately on the return to our place in the social improvement business after a nearly 15 year absence. We are done pandering to tech change for resource delivery and getting back to being a person centred organization right?
And we need to go further and faster. We need to be lighthouse in serving the needs of the most shape shifting members of society…
Social newcomers, immigrants and migrants especially.
Can you think of more vibrant and varying folk in society than these three groups? The rates of change in their lives put the wearying hand-wringing of the 20 to 60 set to shame.
The new totalitarianism is not about borderlands and bank accounts per se… But rather about the decision makers (in that 20 to 60 group) and those on their fringes who suffer the onslaught of their bad choices. Not to disrespect the conversation of those within that group whom are infantalized by this state, or prematurely aged out or otherwise excommunicated from their own citizenship by poverty or some such mode of difference… they engage at the library too. I do remember that.
Is this what you see when you look at the library. Is this the armour by which we say we are alive in the reading lives of children and seniors, the most high consuming two groups of recreational reading. We are cornerstone in Internet neutrality, communications and citizenship. Look at the library.. we care not one jot if male decision makers aged 30-55 don’t need us. Good for them! We have other work to do.
Library problems that might be social problems. Let’s get rid of them.