02 February 2006


Marketing and branding expert Chris Olson [Chris Olson & Associates, Annapolis, Maryland, USA] has a wonderful article in Informed Librarian Online. It is titled, Reading the Tea Leaves.

Olson talks about the current definition of a library (a collection of books) and the challenge of changing it to something more descriptive of what modern libraries are and will be. Some especially good quotes:"

"It's not that being associated with books is bad. Where the library brand begins to crumble is when people say that they use the library less [because] they like to locate information for themselves."

"Unfortunately for us, the library brand has gone from being beautiful to a challenge."

"There will always be some folks who will, after hearing about the services and products offered by the newly branded information service, conclude that it's like a library. But the person will be on their way to understanding that something is different."

Usually I agree with Olson, but I just can't agree that for libraries and librarians to be successful in the future they need to call themselves something else. We need to change what the words "library" and "librarian" mean, not change the name!

PS. If you haven't seen Informed Librarian Online, take a look at it. It is a current awareness, table of contents service designed just for librarians. And it is free. I heartily recommend it (and not just because it includes The One-Person Library).

Chris Olson & Associates: http://www.chrisolson.com
Informed Librarian Online: http://www.informedlibrarian.com/
Reading the Tea Leaves: http://www.informedlibrarian.com/guestForum.cfm?FILE=gf0602.html

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