Are libraries about information? No; at least that shouldn’t be their focus
Are libraries ‘just’ for books? No
Should they be ‘mainly’ about books? For now, yes
Should they be about ‘anything we can think of’? No
There has to be a limit to what libraries are charged with doing, be that by government, commentators or librarians. Libraries should be about:-
- books- including the usefulness and joy of reading
- other sources of works of research and the imagination- from CD-ROMs to wikis; and, we might add now, about the fun of creating and sharing
- help with finding and using these books and other sources
- local information, including council information, cultural information and pointers to further services
Libraries shouldn’t be, amongst other things
- free day-care centres
- replacements for well-run and funded GP booking services
- teen centres
- people-who-validate-the-staff centres
Libraries have their part to play in various schemes etc, but they do that best by being good libraries. Anything that happens in them should contribute to that; not to numbers, not to getting ’em in so we can sell ’em something else.
If libraries are everything, eventually they will be nothing.