Home > Access > 3 bedroom house and two cars in the garage

3 bedroom house and two cars in the garage

that’s what my professor in college said. He said it as an example of what every “American” has – we all have 3 bedroom homes with 2 cars in the garage.  The student from India turned to me and asked if he could borrow one of my cars. He was not being facetious – he truly believed it. So, it seemed, did the professor. [the professor also proclaimed no women had worked until the 1940s with ‘Rosie the Riveter’. Seeing my stunned look, he asked if I had comment. I gently pointed out the whole Industrial Revolution, child labor and all. He looked a bit confused then decided that perhaps women did work but certainly not very hard]

My point here is anger and frustration.  In the media, on the lists, I keep hearing about the demise of the library and to find information (such for the Toyota recall), go to a website.  Uh, I don’t know what world you people live in but I inhabit one where not everyone HAS a computer much less internet access at their fingertips. Libraries fulfill the need of the masses to gain computer and internet access (and lots of other needs too but we’ll look at this one alone). I worked in a medical library where I helped many people find the information needed. I also helped staff who had to file all their vacation and sick time as well as take the inevitable HR required “Ethics” tests, “Safety” tests, etc.  all via the computer but had no idea how (mainly the janitorial and maintenance staff but others as well with varying levels of skill AND they ranged in age from late teens on up).

“Oh libraries aren’t needed, everything is on the Web”

“Eh, who needs books anymore?”

“Just download it to your eBook reader”

“go to this website to learn all you need to be filthy, stinking rich”


Are we working our way towards the “information rich” and “information poor” society that libraries are sworn to prevent?

I know this is not strictly a metadata or cataloging subject but it is vaguely librarian-like and, gosh darn it, it really gets to me sometimes!

Categories: Access
  1. Ana Krahmer
    April 12, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    I save your blog posts for times when I need a logical voice speaking reasonable thoughts to me about libraries (and archives). I still have so much to learn about libraries, archives, librarians, and archivists, and I find that your posts often help keep me on track about my goals for my institution. They center my focus, so to speak about why we do this–I have never been able to work for a paycheck and just figure that’s all I needed. That isn’t fulfilling. I work for the institution, for the knowledge that exists here, and it really helps to hear that I’m not the only one who occasionally sees the train jumping the tracks.

    Computers=Gateways to Information
    Libraries=Holding Pens of Information, also providers of Gateways. (Gatekeepers? Hehe. Let’s not get all “Ghostbusters” here.)

    Anyway, thank you again for a thought-provoking post.

  2. April 14, 2010 at 7:35 pm

    shucks, thanks! I’ll even resist the Key Master references…

  3. September 21, 2010 at 3:01 am

    Interesting post. I worked at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and in many ways, one of the main purposes of the entire organization is to get specific information to specific people and places. While that may mean getting the latest computer-derived budgetary figures to high-level ambassadors on their mobile phones or Ipads, it also means getting information on cattle diseases to a farmer who needs to save his herd of cows in the jungle of Africa. Both are equally important.

    There are multiple ways of achieving it, e.g. using Rural radio, or setting up local libraries. The local libraries have contact with a major library elsewhere in the country, so that the farmer can contact the local library, the local library contacts the main library where they have internet access. They can get the material online, perhaps they print it locally either in that town or near the local library (thereby providing opportunities for local business), and get the information to the farmer. Of course, all of this is premised on freely-available materials, and FAO does that for the materials they produce.

    All different kinds of people need all different kinds of access, but they all need information.

  4. September 21, 2010 at 9:12 am

    Thanks James! Exactly! Information needs are universal whilst computer/internet access is NOT universal (not yet). And working for FAO must have been both fascinating and fulfilling. I loved working in the medical library because I felt, even more strongly than in an academic setting, that what I did really mattered. It all matters but I hope that makes sense…

  1. October 6, 2010 at 10:22 am
  2. January 23, 2011 at 4:21 pm

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