I had some fun over at the SLA Future Ready 365 blog this weekend when my post “Re-embracing the “Shush”–Can the Library be a Quiet Place in the Age of Social?” went up on Sunday. There is a lot of talk about how the library should be a place for social gathering, sharing ideas, and being a place similar to a Barnes & Noble or a Starbucks. I thought I’d take the other extreme and suggest that instead of pretending to be a business (something we are not), why not re-embrace what we traditionally think of when we think of libraries – a quite place to go to study, research and get things done.

The idea came from the following three things that I’ve recently read, watched and prepared:

  1. Ark Group’s February 2011 conference on Best Practices & Management Strategies for Law Firm Library & Information Service Centers – At this meeting, I will be co-presenting with WilmerHale’s Library Director, Matthew J. Todd, on the issue of reconsidering the physical space of a law firm library from a “Social Engineering” perspective. In other words, using the physical library as conduit for actually talking and sharing ideas with your peers in real face-to-face interactions.
  2. Jason Fried’s TEDx Talk on Why work doesn’t happen at work – The e-Discovery manager in my office sent this video to me a couple weeks ago and found it interesting the amount of time, money and effort that law firms spend on work space, only to find out that real work may be going on elsewhere.
  3. The University of Arizona’s law library got some interesting press in the student paper saying that the law library refuses undergraduates. It seems that one of the best kept secrets at the University of Arizona is that if you want a place where you can study and actually get something done without interruption, the law library is the place to go. 
If you think that the library is a place to get work accomplished, then instead of running away from the stereotypical ideas of what a library is, perhaps we should re-embrace those ideas rather than attempt to be some type of quasi-bookstore, coffee shop, or social gathering place, and return to being a place where you go to obtain information and work in a quiet atmosphere. 
Go over and check out the SLA Future Ready 365 blog, where you’ll find my post, and daily updates from other librarians that work in specialized fields. Perhaps you’ll even be motivated to contribute your own post.