Monday, June 18, 2007

Library Evolution

OOTJ readers who are also on the LawLibDir listserve have already seen the e-mail exchange prompted by Carl Yirka's questions about what libraries have stopped doing or buying in order to meet new demands. Jim Milles also interviews Carl on his Check This Out podcast, so you'll want to hear that. The list includes such no-longer-surprises as cancelling print Shepards, statutes and reporters, and no longer binding most journals. Other items included

* letting computer labs die out, and depending on students' own laptops instead;

* cutting out telephone reference;

* no longer doing changing displays -- a permanent display of student trophies;

* no longer giving live tours -- they created podcasts and tapes;

* transforming the full semester advanced legal research class into mini-sessions of two weeks each (I suppose by topic);

What I found most interesting in the discussion was the upbeat response, focusing on the reason for these changes -- not just budgets tight and expenses rising. These librarians are not cutting things so much as transforming them. They are moving into digital formats when they drop Shepards, codes and reporters, as well as skipping journal-binding. They are exchanging one form of service for another that fits their patrons' new needs and lifestyles, as with the changing of live tours into self-guided tours or going with mini-courses. This is library evolution at work!

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