Michael Rosenblum (down the comment thread)
So in a way this whole ordeal sort of begs the all important question: how do we effectively demonstrate the library’s value to demographics that do not necessarily need the library, i.e. rich white dudes? This case is even more complicated, as he seems to be a wealthy white man with a truly skewed view of poverty and access. I’m not sure we care whether or not this person ever steps foot in a library (I certainly do not), but I don’t think it serves us to alienate those folks with cash and a national audience.
I’d counter with: badly told to whom? The outcry to Rosenblum’s article indicates that plenty of people are aware of the importance of libraries. It’s simply that these are not the people who can get their spurious, badly-researched articles published by the Huffington Post.
So, how do we get these folks on our side? How do we show them that the the library serves the information needs of its entire community, including the people who are “rich enough to live on W. 53rd Street”?
I’ve noticed that Rosenblum’s original point was, “Hey, I’ve got Google; what do I need a library for?” It sounds like we need to meet people like Rosenblum where they are— at Google, on the Web, via people’s web browsers. Maybe find a way to embed our collections and services into search engines, work with them instead of alongside them.
Consider: Wouldn’t it be neat to Google the title of a book, or an author, and see something like “These titles available at [your local library]”? Or, upon hitting a paywall that your library subscribes to, seeing something like “This content is available for free to [your local library] patrons; please enter your username and library card number.”
It’s a small thing, but I always link to WorldCat when discussing a book. Perhaps I’d choose affiliate links if I had to pay the costs of hosting a blog on the order of BoingBoing, but for the rest of us, I think this is a good way to facilitate library use.
[An aside: for me, the most staggering example of Rosenblum’s “thought” is when he writes, “If people come to the library to use the Internet, why not have the library come to them over the same medium? Just thinking out loud.”
After being given statistics showing that many people come to the library because they don’t have internet access at home, he still suggests bringing a library to them online as a “solution.” He seems fundamentally unable to conceive/concede the fact that he’s not representative of the entire population, and that his ability to not use the library isn’t shared by all.
It’s not a branding problem, it’s a humility problem.]