Thursday, April 08, 2010

A Thanks to KVPR and the future of libraries

I have always loved National Public Radio. When I was asked to be interviewed for the local NPR affiliate, KVPR's Quality of Life Program, I was ecstatic. The program aired Tuesday and is now available online here. During the program, the moderator speaks to a varied selection of people about the future of libraries and information. The program included segments with a Fresno County Librarian, Rick King, Chairman of the Minnesota High Speed Broadband Task Force, and later in the show, myself.

As I was listening and speaking on the show, one of the things that kept surfacing in my mind was- how do we get our services to people? How do we connect the information that we have to them? iPads and ebooks are all the rage, and are certainly a great innovative step into our future. However, for the here-and-now, it's a question of, "how do I get this print book or this DVD to the person who wants it?"

Here in the San Joaquin Valley, there isn't sufficient broadband to provide e-content consistently and the population typically isn't affluent enough to have e-book readers or the bandwidth to download an audiobook online to their mp3 player. We need to provide the content that we currently have, most of which is non-digital. That's why I continue to be impressed with our library consortium. The San Joaquin Valley Library System includes 13 different jurisdictions, making 2 million books and other items available. If you live anywhere in the area, whether it is the biggest city such as Fresno, or the smallest community, which might be Alpaugh, you can still have access to a variety of material, from critical information to the latest bestsellers. It's all moved around by hand and delivered to your local library.

It's truly amazing what we can do by pooling our resources, responding to the community needs right now, and getting them the services they want. It's looking to the future as well, and being able to plan for future needs.  However, it's the right now that needs to be figured out. How do we do that?