What I find most interesting is how often these patrons may start using the libraries services with something that is more popular or seemingly without value (to some people). They start with the public access computers and the Internet. Free Internet, who could say no, now I can check my MySpace all day long for free. Blockbuster DVDs, wow, now I don't have to fork over $4 to see that latest movie. Many politicians may say, why are we wasting our money on those things? In the end, these same patrons get value from these services alone, but most of them move up to subjects that help them in life. It helps them get a job, enrich themselves, perform research, and find out about the world.
Many staff as well may question why we provide these services. A library is about books they will say, why are we doing this? We can look at examples in the United Kingdom where libraries are being closed and the system is in dire straits. Why is this? It is simply because they did not keep up with the times. As information and services became electronic, public access computers and Internet, these libraries said the same thing, we are a library, we provide books and that is it.
Shabby public libraries need lottery boost, say MPs
"The committee, headed by the former Labour minister Gerald Kaufman, said: "We are in no doubt that, while libraries are about more than books (and newspapers and journals), these traditional materials must be the bedrock upon which the library services rest, no matter how the institution is refreshed or rebranded.
"The explosion of relevant new technologies has to be embraced by institutions but this should be done in the context of their key functions to gather, order, present and disseminate."END SNIP
What they didn't realize was that libraries don't provide books, they provide information and entertainment through different mediums. It doesn't matter what the format is as long as your provide it. You are not in the book business, you are in the information and entertainment business, once you realize that, you will have a long and sustainable life.
Explained very eloquently (and with much more detail you must read this)
Dear Library of Congress...by Karen G. Schneider http://www.techsource.ala.org/blog/2007/03/dear-library-of-congress.html
To paraphrase Andrew Abbott's point in The System of Professions, we are behaving like the train companies, who thought they were in the train business, not the transportation business, and like them, there are already signs that the “train business” we do is on artificial life support. We are not even close to being the first service of choice for information seekers; we are pretty much down there with asking one's mother. Libraries across the country are increasingly asked to justify their existence in order to receive continued funding, and some have been unable to do so.
We are in the information and entertainment business and that mostly happens through reading materials the library provides. We educate our users in a variety of ways and enrich their lives with books, music, movies, and access to the internet. These interests (and skill at reading and comprehending information in a variety of formats) are essential to keep up in today's information society. Libraries must find new and imaginative ways to get people's attention, to keep their interest, and to guide them to wherever their heart desires.
Here is what happens, a patron comes into our library and all they want is Internet. That is why they got the card, a friend told him that the library has public access computers and free Internet and all you need is a library card. So he said, GREAT, and got one.
At first, he just make a beeline right to the computers every day, but overtime, he looks around, he realizes that the library has movies, and since he has nothing to do on a Friday night, he checks some out.
Now your standard public library doesn't carry just blockbuster movies, but that is what this patron checks out at first. However, over time, he realizes that he has seen all of the latest movies, but still wants to watch something, so he goes to the movies he didn't realize were there before. He checks out an independent film or a movie about another region of the world, or rediscovers a classic.
Then he wants to find out more about the subject and looks for more information, he goes to the library catalog. While searching, he finds several BOOKS on the subject. This is the end product of every library card issued, they may come at first for something that seems trivial, but in the end, they will come to the library and find educational and informational materials for a many reasons. You can use this same storyline for someone trying to find a job, they get a library card to get on the Internet to apply for a job online, they check out educational DVDs or books on resume writing, job interviews, or uses one of our databases to test their skills on a vocational test. They can find out if they will be a good real estate agent or postal clerk, or if how far they are away from getting their GED. Libraries keep their patrons connected in so many ways, it is too bad so many people just see the popular stuff or the computers and technology and think libraries waste money.