A really excellent post by Seth Godin on the future of Libraries in the digital world. I think that in it, he approaches the truth for far more then Librarians!
The emphasis added in paragraph two is my own. And I’ve added it because I believe that the role of impresario is currently waiting for someone to step into it. That might mean publishers, librarians, author or booksellers, who it is hardly matters in some senses, but there is a clear opening for someone to act as a central coordinator and promoter. Godin gets this, maybe some folks will listen to him.
And then we need to consider the rise of the Kindle. An ebook costs about $1.60 in 1962 dollars. A thousand ebooks can fit on one device, easily. Easy to store, easy to sort, easy to hand to your neighbor. Five years from now, readers will be as expensive as Gillette razors, and ebooks will cost less than the blades.
Librarians that are arguing and lobbying for clever ebook lending solutions are completely missing the point. They are defending library as warehouse as opposed to fighting for the future, which is librarian as producer, concierge, connector, teacher and impresario.
Post-Gutenberg, books are finally abundant, hardly scarce, hardly expensive, hardly worth warehousing. Post-Gutenberg, the scarce resource is knowledge and insight, not access to data. The library is no longer a warehouse for dead books. Just in time for the information economy, the library ought to be the local nerve center for information. Please dont say Im anti-book! I think through my actions and career choices, Ive demonstrated my pro-book chops. Im not saying I want paper to go away, Im merely describing whats inevitably occurring. We all love the vision of the underprivileged kid bootstrapping himself out of poverty with books, but now, most of the time the insight and leverage is going to come from being and fast and smart with online resources, not from hiding in the stacks.