Museums & libraries & the future . . .
I just came across this post by Seth Godin about the future of libraries. I believe that museums and libraries and archives have a lot in common as we struggle for community relevance and continued visitor-ship in this ever-changing world. I also think that libraries are a little more 'hip' to these changes and challenges, which can be seen in their spoofy videos, such as their viral Ga-Ga one, that describes what librarians do for their visitors. And I can tell that Godin is up on this as well — I particularly like how he describes the value of librarians through this quote:
The librarian isn't a clerk who happens to work at a library. A librarian is a data hound, a guide, a sherpa and a teacher. The librarian is the interface between reams of data and the untrained but motivated user.
Godin also speaks of the way information is provided and requested these days — i.e. it's a digital world, baby — is challenging the value of the library as a repository of paper books only. He makes a point that a library is much more than that: "Just in time for the information economy, the library ought to be the local nerve center for information." He adds:
The next library is a place, still. A place where people come together to do co-working and coordinate and invent projects worth working on together. Aided by a librarian who understands the Mesh, a librarian who can bring domain knowledge and people knowledge and access to information to bear.
This post really hit home that relevance is about people who enable you to engage with a place — it is not about the institution alone and its so-called self-worth. Whether it's a library, museum, shop, or government office, it's the people who work there that create a connection to the information and value of the institution, one person at a time.
Now, how is it museum workers are directly relating to our visitors? I think the future of museums depends on how we figure this out.
Check out the conclusion of Seth Godin's post here. Great read!