Friday, December 11, 2009

View From the Phlipside - Friend of the Library

These are the scripts from my weekly media commentary program on WRFA-LP Jamestown

My name is Jay Phillippi and I've spent my life in and around the media. TV, Radio, the movies and more. I love 'em and I hate em' and I always have an opinion. Call this the view from the Phlipside

One of the recurring pieces of advice for folks who try to see into the future is to remember that people insist on doing unexpected things. We get rid of things that people are sure we'll never leave behind and we hang onto things that the experts are sure we are ready to drop at any moment.

Take as an example, libraries. Giant repositories of old school media, books, magazines all that kinda stuff. Add to it the common wisdom that nobody reads any more. Or the slightly more elitist point of view that if people do read today they only read junk. Not like the old days when folks gathered round the fire for a rousing reading of James Joyce.

But I digress. It's probably library withdrawal that's getting to me. Our local library is in the process of getting some very important and needed renovations done. Sadly for folks like me who like having that resource at our beck and call it's going be a little while longer before we can return. As with any big project the work is taking slightly longer than anticipated.

In the meantime we can consider the future of libraries. Which may not be as dark as some people once thought. Curiously it's new technology and media that are leading the way. In fact it's the new technology and medium that some folks thought would finish the library as we know it that may be breathing new life into the institution. The e-book or e-reader, of which the best known variety is the Kindle, seems to be a friend of the library. A few libraries in England have begun lending electronic versions of books and discovered a rather interesting result. The number of library members went UP! The system is very simple, you log onto the library website, select from the available titles, download it to your computer then load it into your e-reader. Actually the only one it doesn't work with is the Kindle which requires proprietary files. Seems the Kindle folks can be placed outside the clan of friends of the library. After two weeks the book erases itself so you don't even have to worry about late fees!

England has seen sharp declines in the number of visitors to its libraries and the number of books being checked out. So anything that actually increases those numbers is welcome. It's easy to overlook what a great resource a local library (and its staff I hasten to add!) are for all of us. So anything that helps bring more people back into those hallowed halls of learning, literature and leisure is a great idea in my mind.

So now we just have to wait patiently while our old friend finishes with the latest improvements.

Call that the view from the Phlipside

1 comment:

PseudoPiskie said...

The computers in Meadville's library are usually full. I love that they make people stand to use them. They have free wifi which I use occasionally but I've never seen another personal computer being used. There usually are people reading, especially newspapers. I can't imagine a town of some size without a library. But I can imagine kids growing up without ever darkening the door of one. That is the biggest tragedy.