As briefly mentioned in lecture, the newest library Branch “Library Express” in Hugo, Minnesota allows patrons to pick up pre-ordered books after hours, no librarian required. As Kristin asked in class, what is wrong with that? (Despite its ability to fuel the self-asserting remarks of a distant relative during Thanksgiving dinner about the future of libraries or lack there of?) I only see the positives of “Library Express.” Yet, there are professionals in our field who think that library branches that are more like kiosk’s than traditional libraries could be a bad thing. Is this merely a division in visions of what a library should be or is the hybrid “iSchool” education taking effect? Does it really matter? I understand the “Library Express” as a library branch in Hugo, Minnesota providing service to their community and patrons in the best way possible while working within their financial capabilities. As a library patron I often wish I could check out a book when the library was closed, especially growing up in a small Wisconsin suburb where the community library closes at 5pm on Fridays and doesn’t open on Sundays. Ironically, I think that innovative ideas like “Library Express” are what keep public library important in their patrons.
A recent article I read about the planning of an “all-digital” library in Bexar County, Texas reminded me of our short discussion in class. Is a library with no books, with only digital content and devices going too far? At first glance, a library with no books seems scary even for the most forward thinking future librarians. However, I think that an all-digital library branch is a creative solution to issues of e-books and e-readers in libraries. Developers of BiblioTech, the name for the all-digital library in Bexar do not think of the branch as a replacement to a traditional library, but rather a way to supplement their services to an expanding community (Mlot, 2013). The developers of the new library branch hope that it would provide patrons greater access to content that they otherwise cannot get because of recent geographical expansion of the community. With the proper resources, I think an all-digital branch could help alleviate the tensions that e-readers and e-books are causing in libraries for librarians and patrons. At an all digital branch focusing on e-books and e-readers, librarians can take extensive measures to inform patrons about e-book policies, downloading instructions, lending policies, etc.
Librarians need to serve their community in the best way possible. Not all communities will want or use an all-digital branch. As librarians I think it is important to remember that different communities are going to want and expect different collections, materials, and programs from their library. Though the Express Library and BiblioTech have little in common, these branches are similar in that their librarians are finding innovative ways to meet their patron’s needs and making the most out of their budgets.
Texas County Plans All-Digital Library http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2414264,00.asp
New Library Technologies Dispense with Librarians http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304354104575568592236241242.html