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Re: Bike sharing and the library

To be honest, and with due respect, this all sounds to me like 
not much more than a strong dose of pointless wishful thinking.

Isn't the kind of "brand" you have in mind, and whose salvation 
you would apparently like to facilitate, one that hardly any 
longer exists except in the perception of those with a vested 
interest in preserving for the sake of preservation yesteryear's 
credo's, paradigms, and discourses? A symptom of librarian 
reactionarism, of a characteristic 'd?formation professionnelle'?

When I encounter your plaint that "Experience and professional 
status is only something that colleagues see.", my reaction is 
unavoidably: so, what's new? I've never known matters to be 
really otherwise. And quite understandably. Why in heaven's name 
should library users have any interest in or concern for this 
kind of thing? Isn't such a status system something that the 
occupational group itself long ago set about conjuring up on its 
own behalf, and has subsequently coveted, essentially in the 
service of its own gratification, self-esteem, and 
identity-construction? (Where's the effective legitimation in the 
outside world? Or is librarianship self-legitimating??)

Such has long been the situation. But for more than a century, 
until say a decade and a half ago, the professional academic 
librarian's worldview (and the concomitant structures and costs) 
continued for pragmatic reasons to be quietly tolerated without 
further ado. This was nice while it lasted, I guess I can say as 
a former member of that group, but the game's pretty much over 
now. It's not that that worldview is being explicitly disputed. 
(We should be so lucky as to get that much serious attention!) It 
is simply out of sync with the way the actual world works -- and 
becoming more so every day.

And though it may be the case that many "librarians view 
themselves as academics", and you may well "want patrons and 
provosts to think of librarians as scholars", the simple fact, as 
far as I can tell, is that -- understandably -- neither patrons 
nor provosts nor anybody else see librarians in that way, that 
they in general never have, are never going to, and have now in 
any case less reason than ever before to be inclined to do so. 
[I'd probably be prepared to defend the assertion that 
librarians' professionally profiling themselves as scholars is, 
at least outside their own circles, more counterproductive than 
anything else.] And the time for feeling any credible need "to 
justify hiring, retaining, and compensating highly trained 
academic staff" in an academic library lies firmly behind us, it 
seems to me. (At least if you mean MLIS-type or subject-specific 
training, as opposed to technical or logistic.)

If we want a smooth transition from traditional academic 
libraries, as your (former) "places of scholarship", to the kind 
of documentary information infrastructures that the future's 
higher education will require (indeed, demand), wouldn't we be 
well advised to adopt a somewhat less anachronistic frame of 
reference than appears to have inspired this particular Bike 
Sharing post?

Laval Hunsucker
Breukelen, Nederland

----- Original Message ----
From: Philip Davis <pmd8@cornell.edu>
To: Liblicense <liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu>
Sent: Tue, May 10, 2011 1:16:00 AM
Subject: Bike sharing and the library

Bike Sharing Comes to the Academic Library


"The problem with offering great coffee, comfy chairs, and 
bicycle rentals to the library is not that these amenities are 
unwelcome -- indeed, they are appreciated by most patrons. The 
problem is that they start diluting the brand of the academic 
library. And a dilution of the academic library brand may make it 
more difficult to justify hiring, retaining, and compensating 
highly trained academic staff."

Phil Davis