Be brave : get rid of it.

BBe brave. Draw a line in the sand. Look at all the formats – physical & digital. Technology changes. Needs change. Lead the way. Dump the old formats. Lose the crap.

So, you’ve already stopped collecting formats that are dying technology? Next step is to throw out all the dead formats you still hold!

What if … we get rid of all the vinyl, DAT tapes, cassettes, videos, CDs, DVDs?

Let’s give this stuff away. Recycle it. Sell it. Make art from it. But let’s not waste time, energy & space on it anymore. Find another way. Stop wasting shelf space. Stop wasting server space. Stop wasting cataloguing & processing time. Pointless busy work.

If the content is *really* important and of value to our customers, but the format is dead or dying, then let’s find a way to transfer the content, to upgrade it to a stable, usable & accessible format.

Find the money for digitising microfiche & microfilm. Lobby the vendors to create a digital version. Make a Kickstarter campaign (such as the one which will reprint the Uncle Books).

I’ve heard the arguments – not everyone has access to new technology. I know the arguments – it’s not environmentally responsible to throw it all away. I just don’t agree with the arguments.

Find another way. Format shouldn’t dictate the content. Provide better access to the content. Find another way.

Be brave. Get rid of it. Strive for better for our customers. We all deserve better. And there are others doing it better than us.

What if … we told our customers to support the local businesses who are format focussed? Find the best record store in town (hint – Slow Boat Records) and encourage your customers to go there instead.

What if … we embedded & promoted NZ On Screen instead of collecting NZ CDs & DVDs for the Music Department?

Bold. Bodacious. Brutal. Beneficial. Better. Big. Bizarre. Brawny. Boundless.

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4 thoughts on “Be brave : get rid of it.

  1. Nice ideal, but what aboout low socio-economic communities where they don’t have access to devices to use newer formats?
    Should the customer have to pay to travel to the library each time they want to access digital content?
    Also many libraries have ever-reducing budgets and would you still recommend to ‘find the money’ to digitise at the cost of losing staff?

    • Thanks for your comment R. A couple of ideas to mull over.
      Finding the money. There’s always different ways to find money, it doesn’t have to come from staffing budgets. I don’t think it is a clear cut either/or argument for staffing vs. digitisation. You can repurpose internal $$, take the time/energy/money that is spent maintaining dead formats, and repurpose that time & effort towards digitisation. There’s national funding to apply for, there’s partnerships with external funders, there’s collaborative projects with technology companies. It is about thinking broader than “this is our budget”, and that it is the only money available. There’s already plenty of $$ is being spent on initiatives like NZ On Screen, Te Ara, PapersPast, so it is about looking broader than our internal budgets & collections to where the money is already being spent and trying to tap into that, or using those resources instead of recreating it in a different format.
      Access to digital content only at the library. The digital divide is very real for many library customers, possibly more so in the public sector, but it is not uncommon in other library sectors. Let’s ask our customers what they want to do about this instead. Is it an opportunity to engage with communities and find out if there are other options for providing access? Could we lend out devices pre-loaded with content (many places already do this, to varying success)? Is it time for an actual conversation with customers to find out what they actually want or could want? Could we continue to provide access in the short-term while we continue to lobby medium to long term to local & central government for cheaper, faster, accessibly broadband? Why not ask the customers how they would feel about it – ask their opinion. Ask “if we took away the DVDs but showed you how to access this online, what impact would that have on you personally?” Is the content that they are accessing in a dead format *only* accessible to them in this format, or are they making a conscious choice for the dead format for a specific reason?
      Socio-economic reality for some communities. If you can prove that you are the *only* access point for your community for these dead formats, and that this is the only format that they can access, and you can justify spending your limited budget maintaining the dead formats for your community – prove it with data, show that the customer base you have is reliant on your for dead format maintenance, and fight for it. But don’t just do it because you *think* you have a customer base that needs the dead formats. You need to talk with your community and find out if there are other ways for them. For example, is the person who still uses cassettes a sight impaired customer who could access the RNZFB services, opening up a whole world of new content & technology access for them? Are the audio book listeners aware of e-readers where you can increase the font size? I think that there are conversations that need to be had, to talk with communities and advocate for better formats on their behalf.

      We can have conversations with our customers and improve overall digital literacy, advocate for better digital access, and search for better solutions than maintaining dead formats. I want more than that for my communities.

  2. I really like this post Megan and applaud *your* braveness in writing this. I like your way of looking at the situation from the point of view of the customer and that we need to back up our reasons with solid data about what our customers need and want. It’s important to really evaluate the content and work out the best way of making it available in the best possible format and forming local collaborations in order to do that. This post is almost a manifesto in challenging people to rethink how we traditionally look at this issue and come up with some innovative ways of better serving our customers – bravo!

    • Ka pai A. Thank you for comments 🙂 I do want people to reframe their thinking from customer perspective, they are the reason why we are here. And I’d be thrilled to see more collaborations at every level.

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