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16 February 2007



Good questions, Theodora. In the worst cases, it's the "librarian knows best" syndrome, or as one former co-worker told me, "I don't have to ask the users what they want, I know what they need."

In the best cases, it's a sincere belief that being a librarian involves an obligation to the collection and its future users as well as to the immediate and present users. Even the stodgiest, most stubborn devotee of collection-centric policies is trying to provide good service. If that weren't the case, change would be much easier.


Historically, libraries were closed places designed to "preserve the scholarly record." Open stacks are a fairly recent innovation, and are still not universally available (look at LC, NLM, and the grand New York Public Library).

So, perhaps it is in some librarian's DNA to service the collection rather than the people who use the collection. Patrons come and go, but the collection endures. This is not a progressive attitude, of course. But perhaps it helps to explain the difficulty of designing more user-focused libraries.


Hey Theodora,
Just found your blog! - Taneya

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