Learning Blog 6: Give the people what they want?

It been a busy week here behind the Looking Glass. Most importantly there was the Minnesota Library Association Conference to attend in Duluth. There were new ideas explored, new friends to be made, and new dance steps to learn. Durring one of the lunches I was at a table with several Public Librarians who were discussing e-books, specifically Overdrive and it’s rather draconian policies. The consensus at the table seemed to be that though their were serious misgivings, library patrons wanted their e-books and they wanted them NOW. This seemed to be the end of the conversation, that librarians should just give in to Overdrive’s demands since it’s what their patrons wanted; their seemed to be no convincing them otherwise. As Ziitrain says:

The internet is too open. People now want an internet that is more stable, the same way they want an automobile or refrigerator or hair dryer that’s stable. When people have the choice of an appliance that behaves nicely like the iPhone, they’ll move to that. I’m afraid we’ll lose the innovation and “generativity” of the internet.

He’s would seemingly be correct here, as there is certainly a demand for e-books in the same way their is for appliances. Except that there are other options for libraries,  including a good one suggested by the Librarian in Black: http://librarianinblack.net/librarianinblack/2011/07/open-library-offers-libraries-a-third-choice-for-ebooks.html. So I think Zittrain’s concern’s are real, that there may be a real possibility of the “closing” rather then “opening” of the internet due to people’s fears, concerns, and demand for convenience. (I almost wrote “selfish demand,” but on reflection I too want what I want when I want). However I don’t think how librarians react will change no matter how closed or open things get. We will always want to point people to the best sources possible; it’s part of our DNA. So I think we should all take a pause here; acknowledge Zittrain’s concerns. Then go back to doing what we do best; connecting people to information.


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