Friday, December 14, 2012


Time for a bit of a professional rant: I'm really tired of hearing how libraries have had a hard time embracing technology. Am I saying this is completely unfounded? No. Libraries have a hard time, but so many bloggers, article writers, and "deep thinkers" seem inclined to place all of the onus for this resistance or slowness on the "library" meaning those in charge of running the library. However, I would like to posit this to my readership (bahaha!): many libraries have had a hard time embracing technology because of people and technology itself.

Many communities in America still face massive poverty, language, and literacy gaps. In South Dakota we have those things plus massive gaps in physical space. Yes, in today's world of 4G there are places here that are still on dial up and places where you loose cell phone services because you are on the bottom of a hill (my mom knows this well). To say that today's libraries have a huge range of needs to meet might be the biggest understatement this millennium. Library budgets are shrinking faster than the cost of materials and equipment. Not to mention that there are plenty of people who control library funding who don't understand the need for libraries to adopt new technologies because that's not the type of library they grew up with. Throw in the fact that people want to use the newest technology in the comfort of their own home, and everyone plus the family dog wants to have their own gadgets - for a library that serves even 300 people and the cheapest laptops costing nearly $100 on're smart, reason it out.

That cost factor I previously mentioned might be the biggest concern. How many of you have dropped a book on the sidewalk? How did that turn out? Yeah, maybe a little dirt or grit, possibly a bent page or two. Now, how many of you have dropped your cell phone on the sidewalk and subsequently were looking for a new phone? Now imagine hundreds, possibly thousands of people using the same piece of technology every week. Wear and tear + shrinking budgets = reluctance to purchase technology that is going to be out of date in two years or less (iPhone 5 anyone?). And those cheap laptops I also talked about? Those won't last more than 3 months in your average public library. Yet most libraries in America are doing what they can for their community in terms of providing the most useful technology for those in need of it.

So stop telling me how libraries are having a hard time embracing technology. Go to the next library board meeting or city council budget hearing and advocate for better funding for your local library.