Longing for Library 1.0

While it hasn’t always been embraced by everyone, I think most people are willing to either give Library 2.0 a chance or just ignore it. Unfortunately, the “Editorial Staff of the Tampa Tribune(Mission Creep In Library System Deserves Fresh, Closer Look)”: don’t fit into those categories. They would prefer a third path. Here are a few choice bits of wisdom.
bq.With people increasingly accessing information online, libraries have quietly grown their mission beyond simply circulating books and researching questions. Today, they also serve as computer centers, neighborhood meeting spots, art galleries, tutoring sites and even homeless centers. Some in county government believe every neighborhood deserves a library, so plans have been developed to build more and more. But such convenience carries a high cost, and taxpayers are in revolt over costs that have grown too great.
bq.But in discussing the demand for new libraries, it becomes clear that the role of libraries has evolved. You could even call it ‘mission creep.’ Today, the top priorities are more computer labs and more public meeting space. Book collections are deliberately being kept small. So make no mistake about it. The construction of new branch libraries is mostly about adding value to neighborhoods, not about getting more books to more people. If circulating books were the top priority, the library might decide it makes more sense to buy more bookmobiles, since the current two mobile units have been wildly successful.
bq.The board might also want to review its reciprocal agreement with Pasco County, a deal that’s become a mostly one-way street and gives Pasco a pass on building sufficient libraries for its neighborhoods near the county line. While we want to be good neighbors, it’s hard to see how this agreement serves Hillsborough taxpayers.
bq.Another good place to cut is the heavy focus on movies. While it makes sense for libraries to stock the classics and documentaries, there’s no reason to stock the latest Hollywood shoot ’em up. If people want to watch such movies, the private market offers ample opportunities. Besides, libraries are having a tough time keeping track of movies, and spending much too much to replace lost copies.
bq.And in refocusing its mission, the system also should reconsider the wisdom of saying yes to social events – such as Dance Dance Revolution. While the goal is noble – getting teenagers to the library – teens who arrive to play free video games aren’t there for the books. It seems some would prefer Library 1.0. Or even 0.1.

By Michael K Pate

Michael K. Pate tends to spend a great deal time of time around computers. He has been a Librarian since 1997.

Michael was born in Avon Park, Florida in 1966. Except for a couple of brief periods in his life (once in Tampa and once in Winter Haven/Haines City), he has been a life-long resident.

Originally, he planned on a career as a Computer Programmer and therefore graduate from Webber College with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems in 1988. However, unhappy with career opportunities at the time, he soon returned to school and received a BS in Social Science Education from the University of South Florida.

He began his career in education at Avon Elementary and later Avon Park Middle working as a Computer Lab Coordinator. While technological challenges were interesting, he found himself more and more interested in becoming a Media Specialist. He began work on his MLS in 1995.

However, a summer internship at the Sebring Public Library in 1996 soon made him reconsider just what his career should be. Upon graduation in 1997, he secured a position as a Media Specialist at Eastside Elementary in Haines City. Eventually, the position he was looking for opened up and he returned to SPL as Reference Librarian in 1999.

In 2003, he became Assistant Director of the Highlands County Library System, serving in that role until the position was eliminated during a late round of budget cuts in 2010. Since then, he has been the Computer Support Specialist for the Heartland Library Cooperative. In 2011, he began serving on the Board of Directors of the Tampa Bay Library Consortium.