What isn't opinion is that people use the library more in bad economic times and that most if not all the holders of these critical opinions are not in the position to judge what the people really need.
In an age when information grows geometrically in evermore complex ramified expressions it is highly unlikely that the relevance of librarians is or ever was predicated in scarcity, the opposite is true. More information in higher levels of expressions and descriptions means an increase in the demands for help in accessing information.
A central point of contention in academic libraries is the statistics regarding fewer inquires at the reference desk. On one hand this is seen as a natural progression of technological advance whereby more sophisticated systems of automated retrieval exceed the complexity of the arrogated information and exceed the need for librarians…nice story, sell it to Readers Digest.
Validation of the idea that remote database usage is responsible for the decline in reference desk questions is hard to determine because it is often difficult to get usable statistics on how the database are being used.
These are the same people who sell discovery tools to search their databases…like selling a tire with a hole in it…then selling the patch.
Another argument is that physical books are bad for the library (mostly public). The logic goes like this…the physical form of books is the root of the value of the library, that is to say the local copy of the book which is tied to the justification of the building is *the* source of the value of the library…so, librarians are like golem but with books instead of the ring. Trixy ebooks, no likey…spoils it you does….
And since the future is predicated not on ownership but access and access by new modes of mediated experience the physical books will become obsolete, the keystone of the value of the library falls away and libraries collapse, librarian toss themselves out of windows, and the publishers win…muhahahaha…
You see, publishers may say, screw it, let’s just make ebooks…they are licensed to create artificial scarcity, what books remain maybe too pretty to be circulated, there maybe be a Netflix for books that will do us in…stranger danger!
What if there is only a small percentage of people read ebooks? What if, ebooks could be easily pirated? What if it was in the best interest of publishers to deal fairly with the library because of all the exposure library gives authors and people could get if for free other ways? Just asking….
… well, we don’t support stealing, but we have options. You see, the building allows us to have programs, programs independent of the value of the books. And we could do some ebook publishing ourselves…what I’m saying we have options publishers do not.
I was happy to see library world get mad and create the #hcod and I’m glad people are on Trzeciak like white on rice at M.C. Master and I had fun dropkicking Seith Godin but we have another collective power, the consortium .
Librarianship has problems, this we know. But technology tossed a lot of people for a loop, people with more cash and flexibility than any library. We aren’t screwed. We are adapting and it’s painful for everyone, but please, try to relax and you see someone talking smack about the library go on and set them straight.