Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Wifi hotspots nothing but telephone booths?

I found this article via DaniWeb. And it sparked the following brainstorm (which of course is a creation of my own self-diagnosed ADHD mind and it probably wrong but hey I have a few minutes so here goes)....

An executive with Ericsson says:

Hotspots at places like Starbucks are becoming the telephone boxes of the broadband era.
Which is an interesting thought - and potential Oh Noes! for libraries.

More libraries are tauting free wifi, coffee shops, meeting rooms, etc to bring in patrons who don't want to use libraries for their traditional uses. What will happen when a large number of people are equipped with a broadband mobile? What new tech perks will libraries have to offer? What's the sell of free wifi for travelers, students, business folks and lay peoples? Sure, now they can get to a library's myspace or facebook from anywhere at the touch of a screen but why come to the library? Or perhaps libraries will have to de-emphasize their in-house tech offerings and instead move to promote traditional programming and instruction instead?

Now it would be silly for a "Virtual Librarian" to play down technology in a library (after all it is the alpha and the omega) - but if your library has attached itself solely to the cart of super-in-house-tech-offerings (ebooks, databases, virtual reference, etc) be prepared for a rude awakening before your 40-something librarians retire. Because your vocal tax paying patrons, in-coming college freshman and administrators will have (if not already) a bulk of your services available at their fingertips and will wonder why they need to pay upkeep on a building. As long as you keep offering in-house specialities that can't be found anywhere else you'll be prepared for the future envisioned by the Ericsson exec.

1 comment:

Jeff Scott said...

This really isn't an oh no for librarians. Wi-fi and internet access are great things, but people still have to pay to get access with their laptop. These aren't bread and butter services for libraries. Furthermore, access to these technologies are more expensive than you think. Even if everything was free, from books, to internet, to computer usage, there would still be a need for libraries.