A New Library Model


In the ongoing conversation about a 21st Century Library, I have professed that there should be a model of what that library looks like. That sounds and is somewhat simplistic, but considering how much research, thought and discussion goes into creating any new or drastically altered concept of anything, a model helps to synthesize all that into a more understandable and useful framework. “Model”, of course, means a small version of the real thing, so a 21st Century Library Model is by definition a simplistic version of the real thing, which brings us back to the validity of developing a “new library model”.

What constitutes a “model”? Well, it should contain:

    • All of the basic elements of the real thing, only simpler. (A model of a car doesn’t need all the working parts, but should have all the essential components of body, windows, light fixtures, wheels, etc.)
    • It certainly should look enough like the real thing to be recognizable. (A model of a house should not be easily confused with a barn, or office, or church.)
    • It should be useful in creating the real thing. (A model house provides the basic design, proportions, layout and appearance of the real house it represents.)

While these examples are all of physical 3-dimensional objects, a model of an organization or a concept is the same in its qualities, because it will be used to develop the real thing to resemble the model. Just like a photo is not the person, a “new library model” is not the real library, only a plan upon which to pattern the real library.

IMHO, the foundation of any library is the librarian. One of my first Posts back in January was 21st Century Librarians create 21st Century Libraries wherein I posed questions that have yet to be answered, not even by me.

Ten years into the 21st Century, public libraries are still predominantly providing “traditional” library services for the “Great Generation” patrons and toddlers who make up a large segment of our users. We also provide services for “Traditional” [Digital Fugitive] patrons, the 76 million “Baby Boomers” many of whom are “Digital Immigrants” … who may need help acquiring information in a digital world. What can/should 21st Century librarians do for them?

Where does this broad spectrum of patrons [Digital Fugitive to Digital Native] fit within the “library service response” framework? Does it? Do we need to revise that framework? How do we span the broad spectrum of services from traditional to digital to meet the needs of these diverse patrons? Do we? Should we? How do we, as a profession, transition from library-centered services to patron [customer]-centered services? What do we need to know, and where do we get the knowledge?

I profess that THE FOUNDATION of any library in any century is the librarian. Thus my mantra has become: “21st Century Librarians Create 21st Century Libraries”. That is where the “new library model” begins.

More to come…………………
Next up: 21st Century Librarian

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