I'm telling you this because libraries are like Microsoft.
At one point you had a critical role: you were one of the few places to conduct research. When academics and the public needed to do research into the documentary record, they'd come to you. As you now know, that monopoly has been broken.
The Internet, led by Google, is the start and end of most people's research. It's good enough to meet their needs, which is great news for the casual researcher but bad news for you.
Now they don't think of you at all.
Oh yes, I know all the reasons why the web and Google are no replacement for a healthy research library. I know the critical importance of documentary heritage. But it's not me you're talking to at budget time. It's the public, through the politicians.
But then if I look at the results of those digitization projects, I find the shittiest websites on the planet. It's like a gallery spent all its money buying art and then just stuck the paintings in supermarket bags and leaned them against the wall.
- be useful as well as important
- collections, discovery, distribution
- bits are cheap to copy
- access is expected
- the Internet is bigger than you are
- we have too many bits
- the Internet connects things
You can't afford to be bad at digital. I tell businesspeople: It's your inventory, it's your storefront, it's your customer service line, it's your supply chain, it's your advertising, it's your profit and loss.
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