David Norby, Ph.D. [Abbott Labs, Chicago, Illinois], my former colleague and later boss when I ran a library for an enzymology research firm, pointed out an article by Michael Anft—Of Byes and Books and Databases, Johns Hopkins Arts & Sciences Magazine Online 5(1), Fall/Winter 2007. The article tells of how the dean of libraries at JHU, Winston Tabb, is “partnering with scholars to dramatically advance the way research is done…in [his] quest to create the library of the future.” In his email, he added the following, which I think is very amazing for a library user to come up with.
“I couldn't help but think that there must be tens of thousands of special-interest areas of knowledge where the resources to support those interests are widely spread around the country/world.
“Small libraries and their (librarians) could distinguish themselves, establishing a unique and enhanced-value reputation by becoming the repository and/or clearinghouse for information and resources related to one or a few of those special areas of interest. The collection would take on extra value if it is associated with a local commercial specialty (for example, the town in California that has the annual garlic festival might at its local public library make a focus of developing an internet accessible database for all things garlic, and the Hinckley public Library near Cleveland could specialize in buzzards, and Punxsutawney Pennsylvania's library could specialize in groundhogs and/or mythology related to weather).”