The official published theme for this month’s issue of CIL magazine is Libraries: Proof Positive. According to the call for papers, the issue was supposed to have focused on how to measure your library’s investment in technology, digital content, staff, and facilities.
That’s not exactly the “proof” that the issue turned out to be about, for as every librarian and most researchers know, the real subject has a way of revealing itself while you’re busy looking for something else.
When challenged to write on the theme of how libraries are “using technology to make a difference in their communities,” two of CIL’s standing columnists serendipitously focused on how technology enables libraries to develop value propositions. Marshall Breeding and Terence Huwe both waxed eloquent this month on the subject of how libraries have proved themselves in the past and what they need to do to keep proving their worth now and in the future.
Janet Balas and Helene Blowers serendipitously each chose this month to write about the maker movement and how libraries might expand their classic and valuable role as “think tanks” and “content creation shops” to become places for making all kinds of things.
Readers this month will also find some very pointed views and some very practical tips on how to measure resource usage, how to add value by letting users contribute subject tags to your library’s records, how to retain your valuable SEO ranking when making changes to your website, and how not to lose value if fundamental Web 2.0 solutions such as Flickr suddenly go away.
There are clearly many quantitative and qualitative ways to value libraries, library resources, library systems, and library services, but when we’ve done all that, let’s not forget to acknowledge the priceless thing that libraries are most famous for creating in the minds of those seeking knowledge—the eureka moment of serendipitous discovery.
Dick Kaser, Executive Editor