What Library Services Are Mission-Critical?

By Balas, Janet L. | Computers in Libraries, October 2012 | Go to article overview

What Library Services Are Mission-Critical?


Balas, Janet L., Computers in Libraries


Increasingly, we are living in a world that works 24/7. Even though I sometimes question whether I really need to place an online order very late at night, I still do it. I also admit to downloading an audiobook from the library very early in the morning on my iPhone when my husband and I couldn't face a long day of driving without something to engage our minds. While I wouldn't argue that library service is as critical a need as emergency medical care, today's users expect that library services will be available whether or not the library doors are open. The question becomes which library services need to be viewed as mission-critical, available online 24/7, and which services require physical space and the warmth and expertise of library staff.

'Mobile Digital "Omnivores" Are Radically Changing Media, comScore Says'

This report by Amy Gahran on CNN discusses recent research from com-Score that analyzed the impact mobile devices have had on how users access digital media content. She describes herself as a "digital omnivore" using an iPod, an Android phone, and a Kindle as an illustration of the research results. Even though it doesn't discuss library use, the article's description of user behavior regarding digital content is important for librarians to understand when developing library services for these mobile, but connected, users. The article contains a link to download the comScore whitepaper.

Daniel Rubin: 'Libraries' Experts on Call: A Dwindling Breed'

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Another sign of the changes in library services due to easy access to digital information is in this report by Daniel Rubin, who investigated the fate of the general information specialists of the Free Library of Philadelphia known as the Know-It-Alls. He found that in 1991, there was a staff of 14 librarians fielding 50 phone calls an hour. Now there is one librarian and nine librarian assistants handling questions that are more customer service inquiries rather than ready reference. …

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