Best trend not mentioned at ALA

I’m back from conference and done with post-conference hibernation.  (As an introvert I can only handle so much in terms of personal contact.  It’s great, and I love you all, it just really wears me out and I need some concentrated alone time to recover.)

During conference I was SO pleased to be part of LITA’s Top Tech Trends panel #ala2013ttt.  The panel turned out to be a great mix of people and issues.  I think we were just starting to get our groove on when the session was over.  However we all got to hear Cory Doctorow speak so I don’t think anyone minded.

After you get done with a session like that you spend your time torturing yourself with all the things you didn’t say or should have introduced.  Saturday’s Library Link of the Day, an article from the New Republic titled “American Youth Read Books in Print (for now)” has brought up another trend I wished I’d talked about:  both/and.

The New Republic Article discussed the recent Pew survey showing that kids these days are not all e – they still read plenty of paper books.  Despite the findings, the author of the article has decided that this is likely due to easy availability and assumes that as ebooks become more ubiquitous that will change.

Sigh.  Our history is full of new technologies emerging and not supplanting old ones.  Yes, the 8-track tape is long gone and good riddance.  However quality technologies that are well adapted to their purpose stand the test of time.    We still listen to the radio in the TV age, still watch TV in the internet age, and are far from achieving the paperless office despite having multiple new ways to communicate and store data.

The fact is the printed book works really really well for long form narrative (both fiction and non) and is an excellent asynchronous user interface.  Anyone who thinks the (printed) book is dead hasn’t been paying attention to history.  Yes usage patterns will change for both print books and long form  narrative, but just like radio, TV and paper, the book isn’t going away.  Anyone who wants to be prepared for the future needs to be able to navigate BOTH printed media AND eMedia if they want to be successful – and that goes for content consumers, content creators, and the librarians whose job it is help both groups connect with each other.  To bring Ranganathan’s 2nd and 3rd laws into the 21st century:

Second Law: Every person his or her (e)book

Third Law: Every (e)book its reader

(italics and (e)s mine)


Deputy Director at Phoenix Public Library and crossword puzzle enthusiast.

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