Out-of-Box, Collection-Defining Libraries a Thing of the Future?
Have you seen the comedy skit by legendary comic George Carlin about “stuff”? It’s one of my all-time-favorites and relevant to today’s discussion (though it contains, naturally enough, some adult language).
It stresses the point that we’ve got TOO MUCH STUFF. I know, I know, capitalizing words means that I am shouting but hey—this is an important topic close to my heart.
No matter where I look in my home, I find stuff that I don’t need. And as careful as I am about not bringing things in that I don’t need or won’t use often, there still seems to be a surplus in every corner. Oy!
So what’s this got to do with libraries and the environment? Lots!
In a nutshell, it takes precious, limited natural resources to produce stuff and energy zapping–sized places to house it. But it need not be that way.
There are many things that I don’t need or use frequently, like a cassette tape to CD machine to convert all of my tapes once and for all, or a giant pot for my annual jarring of fruits and vegetables from the garden. And even though these items fall of out the traditional book/CD/DVD category, what if libraries added these items to their collection so that patrons can borrow them on an as-needed basis?
Some libraries do offer this type of service. For example, a number of libraries loan fishing poles, including Oak Lawn (Ill.) Public Library, the Wood Library in Canandaigua, New York, and the Dansville (N.Y.) Public Library.
I’d love to see libraries think out of the box when it comes to their collection not only as a patron but also as an environmentalist and I look forward to hearing your take.