11/23/2009

Four stars for "The Customer-Focused Library"


The Customer-Focused Library: Re-Inventing the Public Library From the Outside-In, by Joseph R. Matthews was published September 30 by Libraries Unlimited. In this outstanding work, Joe persuasively lays out the case for re-imagining what the library does from the point of view of the customer.

One of my favorite quotes is from the introduction: "Remember---The world is going to change with or without you...and If you don't like change...GET READY! You are going to like irrelevance even less." (This is the formatting as it appears in the book.) Joe lays out what we lose by being shackled to tradition, and offers ideas that can make the library future much more positive. He's optimistic in the face of the resistance of traditionalists. In fact, he quotes Lewis Mumford, who wrote, "Traditionalists are pessimists about the future and optimists about the past."

The book isn't perfect; the black and white illustrations don't do justice to the subject, and there's one chart on page 84 that you need a microscope to read. But these quibbles don't detract from the value of the title. It's not too early to be thinking about holiday gifts for those public librarians on your list...


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