Tuesday, October 23, 2007

How do you value your library?

Do you define the value of your library by its physical space or its virtual space?

I wonder because some people want to convince me that my library's value needs to be calculated by its virtual real estate. Do we have a blog? a wiki? facebook? flickr? second life property? I agree that these things have value, but do they have more or equal value to books, librarians, shelvers, study areas, parking spaces, buildings...?

I wonder about these things since budget cuts can make the physical spaces disappear, but leave the virtual property intact (like a neutron biblio-bomb). If you move more of your library services out to the web, will that devalue your physical library space? How do you ensure that the value of your physical library space doesn't plummet? If the value of a business is dependent on location (location, location), why isn't a library's?

Is the library business model outdated? Is the idea of neighborhood brick and mortar structures no longer practical, or necessary?

I don't believe that virtual networking fills the same psychological or emotional needs as physical social settings. But I can only base this on my own experiences. Are today's kids, who develop bonds with unseen individuals in virtual settings (like gaming) the same as me? Do they need the same interactions?

What do we do well that can't be replicated during the online experience? What do libraries do better?

Anyway, I'm just thinking out loud... I might come back to this topic later. Unless you have some answers.