Friday, November 12, 2010

The Real Purpose of a Library

From “Problematizing Patron-Driven Acquisitions” (Library Journal):
a library is more than a shopping site built to satisfy immediate patron needs. A well-chosen collection is a cartography of knowledge that helps guide the novice researcher toward books that they would never think to ask for. … Umberto Eco, who argued for library coffee shops decades before they became trendy, said at the opening of a new library in Milan that "the whole idea of a library is based on a misunderstanding: that the reader goes into the library to find a book whose title he knows." Its real purpose, he said, "is to discover books of whose existence the reader has no idea."
There is also the importance of developing collections for patrons yet unborn.