Washington Post books it!

Outlook from the WashingtonPost April 26, 2015


This post should really be titled YES! that’s what I think. Reading is a life force for me and I suspect many others. Today’s Washington Post Outlook section is entitled: Overbooked: What, and How, to Read – Washington Post (April 26, 2015).

I may pick up The Real Thing: Lessons on Love and Life from a Wedding Reporter’s Notebook by Ellen McCarthy (reviewed by Sara Eckel). Yes, we are looking forward to a wedding in the family soon and I like the tone:

…McCarthy’s pumps-on-the-ground reporting focuses on happy couples, rather than the ones who bicker in therapists’ offices or in front of camera crews. She thus accesses a largely untapped resource: ordinary people who make mistakes but basically know what they’re doing.

She offers hard evidence that success in love is not predicated on being particularly sexy or savvy, but instead grounded in homelier virtues like kindness, courtesy and a willingness to let the other guy win.

Ann Patchett notes in A Discerning Shelf :

Reading is a solitary act, but the transmission of books contains an aspect of joyful sociability.

I, too, give books as gifts to share the pleasure, truth, and  knowledge of the world. I love to talk to anyone about what they are reading. I believe that reading gifts us with the truth that we are not alone; reading allows us to form our own view of the world;  and access to information is a foundation of democracy.

The piece I will reread many times has to do passion and vocation – mine: Do We Still Need Libraries? by Carlos Lozada reviewing the book BiblioTech: Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of Google by John Palfrey. While Lozada reflects on Palfrey’s warning about nostalgia, and his explanations on legal limits to information access; it is Palfrey’s terminology (unfortunately using that overworked phrase “hack the library”) that we need to have a “library revolution” that echoes for me:

Palfrey, the former head of the Harvard Law School Library and the founding chairman of the Digital Public Library of America, wants a library revolution, one that remakes the institution’s technology, goals and training.

Libraries must operate more as “nodes in a larger network” of organizations and must move toward “the digital, networked, mobile, and cloud-based library.” We must “hack” libraries, he urges, meaning we must find ways of distributing their traditional tasks — gathering, sorting and safeguarding physical materials, and helping people access them — among a network of institutions, leaving more time for staffers to focus on helping users access the array of works available throughout these linked institutions. Think of a virtual, turbo-charged interlibrary loan system. (FYI, simply “reforming” or “rethinking” an institution won’t get it done; for lasting change, always be hacking.)

“Libraries must create new nostalgia,” he concludes. “The purpose of renewed investments in libraries should be to establish new services and ways of discovering and accessing knowledge.”

This is a lot to think about as I travel into library conference week attending Computers in Libraries 2015 in Washington, DC. There will be distractions – the new Apple Watch release, no doubt will be front and center. Will people be reading books – or buying books – on their watches? Will they be looking for information on their watches, or will they be “pushed” information that is based on algorithms and pay-per-view?

Library revolution…this is what I will be focusing on this week. Channeling Palfrey again, how relevant are libraries?

Libraries are in peril, he writes, facing budget cuts and a growing perception that technology has rendered them less necessary. All that’s at stake, Palfrey argues, is America’s experiment in self-government. “If we do not have libraries, if we lose the notion of free access to most information, the world of the haves and the have-nots will grow further and further apart. Our economy will suffer, and our democracy will be put at unnecessary risk.”



About Kimberly Hoffman

Twitter: KMH_nowinVA
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