Webometric Thoughts

June 11, 2009

The Library Show 2009: Are libraries stuck in the physical world?

The Library Show was on at the NEC yesterday, so I decided to pay it a visit. The show itself was free, and the £5.20 train fare was more than compensated for by the free magazines. Whilst I enjoyed the show, I couldn’t help but feel it was stuck in the past. Whilst there were organisations promoting technological solutions, there was nothing there that made me think that librarianship is a profession heading in the right direction in changing times. Instead I thought: what a lot of different sorts of shelves.

Whilst I appreciate the continuing importance of the physical library, I would have expected it to be coupled with some innovative digital products. Unfortunately, I fear, there are great swathes of the library world who are stuck firmly in past. Demonstrated most clearly by the absurd comment by someone speaking from the Copyright Licensing Agency:

If copyright didn’t exist people wouldn’t create anymore because they wouldn’t be paid

Copyright has a place, but let’s keep some perspective.

The show organisers did make some effort to be ‘cutting edge’, with Phil Bradley giving a talk on ‘Twitter and Its Value to Librarians’:

Bradley’s talk (slides available on slideshare.net in true web 2.0 fashion) was standing-room only, with the vast majority having never used Twitter. Three year’s after such a service launches a community of information professionals should need more than an unashamed apologist’s introduction on how to use Twitter!

Obviously there is a lot of innovative work going on amongst individual librarians that is not going to show up at a trade fair…but you wouldn’t have guessed by seeing the joy with which they carried around their new CoLibri book covering machine.

The big thing I will take from the fair is StoryPhones. I don’t think I have ever seen such an awful idea!

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