Along the same lines as Lacey’s Travel and Usability post, libraries are not really designed to be very usable. Well… unless you think like a librarian. Who gets a MLIS degree in order to use a library. Okay… I would… bad example.
The below article’s Digital Natives are kids who have played video games all their lives. Its reporting on a talk given at an ALA conference that librarians should redesign libraries to be friendlier to these Digital Natives (aka more like video games). The strawman argument:
â€œThe librarian as information priest is as dead as Elvis,â€ Needham said. The whole â€œgestaltâ€ of the academic library has been set up like a church, he said, with various parts of a reading room acting like â€œthe stations of the cross,â€ all leading up to the â€œaltar of the reference desk,â€ where â€œyou make supplication and if you are found worthy, you will be helped.â€
This similie is warped in my experience. When I worked the reference desk, I didn’t so much bestow books upon supplicants and demonstrate how to use the tools. In essence, it was like explaining to a friend who is stuck how to play the game. I had heard of libraries in which non-library employees are not allowed access to the stacks, but I thought them rare.
Maybe instead of librarians playing more video games, students who play video games should actually use those skills when they go to the library? They can master a university library by spending a couple hours a week for a month browsing, identifying patterns, and enjoying the fruits of their efforts: interesting books. For me, “research” meant skimming all books and articles on a topic and tangents to the topic. I could spend a year absorbing knowledge in a good library. Working in the library explosed me to such an enormous wealth of knowledge free for the asking.
Instead, students typically go into a library to find a list of books or articles. They want to spend the minimum amount of effort to accomplish the goal. This certainly is not how they approach video games.