I quoted Eleanor Jo Rodger a while ago in these pages:
News stories like this and the ongoing Amazoogle discussion prompt us to think about the value of libraries. In that context, I recommend that everybody read Joey Rodger’s article on value and vision:
Valuable is not about our professional values; in the paradigm of the value of public libraries, we are the producers, not the consumers of services. Our personal sense of what is valuable really doesn’t matter much at all unless it matches that of our customers. [WebJunction]
I have just read her excellent short article in the September American Libraries, What’s a library worth? which again would repay reading by all (at the time of writing the September issue does not appear to be online). Libraries are not ends in themselves, and she places the library firmly in the context of the host system (a city or a university for example). It closes with this paragraph:
Creating value for our host systems always involves three things: Librarians must understand their host systems; they must understand the source of their claim to being a legitimate part of their system; and they must do their work well so the system is better because they are there. It’s usually far more a matter of asking and listening than it is of telling and pleading.