Heritage = history+ innovation

As we rethink collections, I think we are seeing them more as assets in the sense I have discussed here, as investment is driven by a stronger sense of how they will be used to generate value in research and learning. Of course, some libraries have thought this way for longer: think of how a busy public library manages its collection. And of course, some libraries will continue to have a mission-driven responsibility to collect significant portions of the scholarly record, although we will probably see more collective approaches here.

-Lorcan Dempsey, “Collections Are Library Assets

It’s nice to see a nod to the meaningful in day-to-day library work, “a stronger sense of how they will be used to generate value in research and learning,” but it rings hollow. Dempsey even points out the negative reaction that business-speak engenders in the scholarly community, but he still employs it. My fear is that by doing so, we take a good idea and force it to the easiest way to understand “value,” which is money. It’s fine for Walmart, but if libraries are going to derive thought from the world of commerce, maybe we should look to places where commerce intersects with something besides cheap, disposable goods:

#36  Luxury is about subtracting the ordinary and adding the meaningful.

#13  If Luxury brands don’t incarnate a cultural truth, they become just empty, expensive products.

-Agenda Inc. “50 Thoughts on Luxury

Libraries cannot content themselves with being “value-positive” or “mission-driven.” Those things are merely ordinary to the everyday existence in today’s world. If we really intend to have meaningful libraries, then the goal should be to move services and collections beyond the expected. Libraries are already expensive, it’s good not to make them meaningless, too. I’ve heard of classes that aim to open doors to other worlds for their students. In light of that, we should aim higher than imitating corporate methods of thinking. Given the state of the world economy and its discontents, perhaps we should look to better analogies:

#33 Heritage = history+ innovation

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