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Gandel on Libraries: Hurts So Good

Paul Gandel, CIO at Syracuse University, just published an essay (in the strangely archaic PDF format) about the future of libraries.

I had a number of “clicks” during this essay. The part that went bing-bing-bing:

“It is no longer unusual to hear about people who prefer to buy a book online and have it delivered right to their door, instead of walking across campus to check out the same book from the campus library. Although these ‘Amazoners’ may still be the exception rather than the rule, in today‚Äôs world of expedited electronic tracking and worldwide delivery, it seems only natural that we should begin to expect direct delivery of print material from anywhere, to anywhere. Yet libraries have been slow to react to these changes. Cumbersome interlibrary loan procedures are still the norm.”

At Library A, I can pay $7.50 per every interlibrary loan and for this privilege hope I might see the item in two weeks. As a consumer, rather than do this, I exercise two other options: I use Library B in the next town, as it offers remote access to a two-state consortium with rapid delivery to a nearby library, or I use Amazon, where I can buy quality used copies of what I need usually for under $5 (and presumably sell them again if I don’t scribble in them).

If I lived in an area without a Library B option, Amazon would be my logical choice. I suspect that the more I used Amazon, the less affiliated I would feel with the local library.

That’s just one small example of how this essay hurts… so good.

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