Nancy Pearl: America's Favorite Librarian
In her view this emphasis neglects and diminishes interaction with real live people, and with the programs that increase live interaction.
"When I went to library school at the University of Michigan (now called the School of Information), we were taught the importance of building quality, balanced collections. These days the emphasis is on circulation statistics, and we all know that a popular DVD will circulate more than, say, Thackeray's Vanity Fair, or even the newest Pulitzer fiction winner. I still believe that it's important to have books available for all types of readers, for those who want light fiction, or histories, or literary novels."
When she started it was about building a quality collection. Today she thinks it's more about give-'em-what-they-want-ism. Taking the time to make decisions on reading or decisions about if a book is worthy of being in the collection, that sort of thing doesn't happen anymore. In her view reading is critical and any book can fulfill a need. But not all reading is reading for pleasure, enjoyment or light reading. However, other reading, deeper more demanding reading, has not been given the same weight.
"I am feeling increasingly as though my generation, who got our degrees in the late 1960s, (we) are dinosaurs in the profession. Our values, our beliefs about the function of a library are now often regarded as quaint or dated. I often feel as though I were a dinosaur, facing certain extinction."
"A community without a library is a community without a soul. Libraries, book discussions, and all the rest breed dialog, civility. In the view of the younger generation - my view of libraries is narrow. And they might be right. It's certainly not going my way; to put it bluntly, 'That train done gone.' I don't see anything great happening and I'm still reeling from being a dinosaur."
That said, she's still a pretty influential dinosaur, because people still want to be guided to good books, and for obvious reasons a recommendation from Nancy Pearl is an excellent place to begin.
"I finish one book for every twenty-five I start. Those are the ones I talk about. That's a lot different than when I started; then I finished one in every ten, but there's so much more 'not good' being published now. I'm not necessarily looking for a page-turner. I want writing so wonderful I copy down whole paragraphs. I'm so tired of badly written books, clunky characters, and all the rest."