The value of libraries

Lorcan 1 min read

I mentioned the proposed cut in library staff by the administration at Bangor University a few days ago. This continues to make the news. A story in the national Guardian newspaper quotes from the University proposal:

The document reads: “The support to the academic and student communities from the qualified subject librarians, whatever its contribution to the teaching and research roles of the institution, is hard to justify in value-for-money terms at a time when the process of literature searches is substantially deskilled by online bibliographical resources.” [ | Careers | Bangor librarians face internet threat]

The Guardian also reports difficulties at the Science Museum where there is a proposal to close the library completely.

What worries the striking curators most is the proposed loss of the museum’s library and 10 librarians’ jobs. Its closure would demonstrate that the museum has finally lost sight of its primary purposes and it is that which has provoked staff to strike for the first time in 13 years. ‘How can we claim to be concerned with the pursuit of scholarship and the truth if we close the science library?’ asks one. [ | Special Reports | Who now will save our museums?]

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]

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