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 sale...you'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technology that is going to be out of date in two years or less (iPhone 5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.