Oscar season comes to an end tonight. Some anticipate watching to see which movie will win the best picture or which favorite actor or actress will win an award. Some look forward to watching the red carpet, all the fashion trends that will emerge. Whatever the reason, the night of the Oscars is a big night for the movie industry and millions of people tune in to watch.
Libraries are a vital part of any community. So it is always disheartening to hear when in some communities, libraries are closing left to right. A crisis, unfortunately, that is currently happening in the UK.
Libraries and publishers, a very tenuous relationship. Both institutions are vital in this book market, especially with the number of booksellers decreasing and Amazon becoming a larger book retailer, but lacking a physical space. You would think with these downfall, both libraries and publishers would be working together. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Libraries are considered the bottom of the totem pole in publishers’ eyes so they receive very little help and publicity from the publishing industry. Strange, right? Libraries are like a free marketing and promotion tool that publishers can use. So why aren’t mainstream publishers taking advantage of this opportunity?
I read this article on TorrentFreak.com and this author argued that if you are defending public libraries, you can’t oppose file-sharing over the internet because basically both file-sharing and public libraries perform the same functions. Here is what he says:
Libraries and file-sharing do not differ in principle. The purpose of libraries was – is – to make culture and knowledge available to as many as possible, as efficiently as possible, for free – simply because of the greater socioeconomic benefit of an educated and cultural populace. How is this not file-sharing?”
Well, that’s it! That is an end of very eventful and productive challenge. I didn’t get to read as many library books I planned. But I did save a lot of money for borrowing these library books (especially since three of the books I read were hardcovers):
Reconstructing Amelia – List Price: $25.99
The Girl on the Train – List Price: $26.95
Emma: A Modern Retelling – List Price: $25.95
The Daughter – List Price: $14.99 (I haven’t finished this one yet but I’m including it)
Total Savings for the month: $93.88
Don’t get me wrong I love buying books. But as you see with the prices above, books can be a real expense. I mean, look I saved close to $100 in one month, just imagine if we calculate it for the savings for the year. This just proves how useful and beneficial libraries. I just wish more people see it that way.
Like I previously mentioned before, I work in a special collections library and had the same library assistant position for the past three years. I earned my MLS in January 2014.
Lately, I have been worried about my job. My job is covered by a union. I can’t get promoted and I can’t get a raise. And top of that, I feel a little disinterested in what I do. I feel that since I have a MLS, I should be a librarian position by now.
Now don’t get me wrong. I love working in a library. If I honestly think about it, working in a library has probably been a lifelong dream. But lately I’ have been second thoughts about working in any special collections library, even though my library degree had a concentration in rare books and special concentration librarianship. Sometimes I wonder if I concentrated on public librarianship, would I be in a better place?
I’m also worried about my qualifications. With the steep qualifications I have been seeing in most job postings, I have doubted that I have the right qualifications for a job to work in another special collections library. So I’m really worried that I will be stuck with a job I don’t that I’m dissatisfied with because there is nothing else out there for me.
There are probably some people out there who are saying “What is she complaining about? She has a job!” But I love working in a library. Shouldn’t I love the position I have in it?
As National Library Week is coming to a close, we reflect on all the things that are libraries have done for us. At the same time, libraries across the country have also been showing their appreciation for what they do for their communities. For example this great parody:
But as I saw libraries celebrating their existence, I noticed that certain type of libraries were missing from the celebrations-special collection libraries.
I’m not saying special collections libraries remove themselves from the celebrations but it did get me thinking. Why such a low prescience of special libraries taking part in National Library Week? People might answer “public libraries require the most funding so they have to put themselves out there.” “Putting themselves out there”, that is the key phrase I want to discuss here, are special collection libraries out of touch with the public?
I currently work in an academic special collections library. We get a lot of researchers that come through our institution, including undergrad and grad students. But we do get our patrons who think they are entitled to everything. And I’m not talking about “our taxes fund public libraries” patron but “we donated money to the library and we should have a say on how it is run” patron. You see, there is an exclusivity feel in the library but is that exclusivity hurting us?
All this week, not one of my colleagues mentioned that this National Library Week. There are no exhibitions, no events, nothing remotely reflecting this event. All that was discuss was particular patrons visiting libraries and what we can do to make them comfortable. I am not against idea. All patrons who enter any library should be made comfortable. But certain patrons should not be getting “special treatment” due to their prominence in a field or how much money they donated. As we were taught in library school, libraries are open for all.
The lack of social media also makes a huge difference. We have a rarely updated Facebook and Twitter page and blog that is only used to announce events that are occurring at our library. I am not saying that all special collections library lack a social media presence, for example this great Tumblr page: Special Collections & Archives at Mizzou. We have a lot great stuff at our library and for some reason we choose not to advertise it all, whether it is through exhibitions or on a blog.
How can we complain that there are not enough people who care about libraries when we ourselves refuse to adopt to the social changes that can help our libraries? How can claim that special collections are important when we neglect to do any advocacy of our own? We choose to help only those elite and the public will continue to think of us that way. And there’s a chance that special collections may the way of 3 1/2 floppy disk: obsolete. And we definitely do not want that to happen
Maybe it also has to do with the type of special collections we are discussing here. A friend of mine visited two special collection libraries: one academic and one public. In her opinion, she felt that the public special collections library showed them more interesting stuff and their enthusiasm for their collections was infectious compared to the academic library. The public special collections library was more appreciative of what they had and were more likely to increase enthusiasm of what they had.
And I think that is the point I am trying to make here. Most special collection libraries feel that they are immune to challenges that face the library profession, mainly the prestigious ones. They feel that their name speaks for itself and trying to advocate relevancy to the public is a moot point. But, you see, that is a huge mistake, all libraries, whatever type they are, will face challenges especially in this digital climate. Having this type of exclusivity is only hindering that process.
Special Collection libraries, the era of chained books is over:
Isn’t it time to remove “exclusivity ” from our field and replace it with “openness”?
I don’t think there are particular books I would like my library to order. I just think they should acquire more books from independent publishers. I like to read a different variety of books and I think that also pertains to who publishes the books. Maybe if we didn’t read from just the “big five” publishers, independent publishers and also writers will get the recognition they deserve.
Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation.”
My first memory of entering a library was enchantment. This was a dream come true for me. Endless, endless miles long of books, all for me to read. And all it takes is just one simple card to make all those dreams come true.
When I was young, I consider libraries my safe haven. Not only was it a place of learning, it was a place where I could be myself without any judgement. It was and still is my favorite place to be. Libraries has all the information and resources you could ever need under one roof. So it concerns me the dire need libraries are in.
Budget cuts. Reduce hours. Lack of resources. These are the common terms that are associated with libraries these days. We have funding to fight wars, build buildings that are completely unnecessary, but for some reason governments can never find the money to fund our libraries.
In this digital age, we need libraries more than ever. It may feel that everyone has the internet or a smartphone, but the reality is technology is still a luxury that everyone does not have access. Libraries can change that. They can bridge that digital divide by all the resources that they currently provide. So the importance of libraries is something I feel very passionate about. And I’m not saying this because I have a library science degree and work in a library. I’m saying this for the next generation of little girls or boys who will feel fulfillment by looking at those same miles and miles of books. That is something Google can never give.