We Read Newsweek So You Don't Have To!
(July 17th, 2006 issue)
* Steven Levy has a "Bowling Alone"-esque revelation on pg. 13 in his article "Will the 'Tail' Kill the Water Cooler?": is the Internet killing water cooler conversation? Back in the day, there were few entertainment options:
"We had access to only a few television stations. We listened to the same songs
on Top 40 radio. We all read the same local newspaper. So there was always
something obvious to talk about."
But, the Internet has catered to our individual interests.
"Increasingly, we're eschewing blockbuster trends to pursue our own quirky
Instead of reading the morning paper, you may just read celebrity gossip (not that I, ahem, know anybody that does this...). Instead of listening to Top 40 radio, you may listen to a house music radio station out of Iceland. Instead of watching the local newscast, you may watch the podcast of the South African Communist party. With the Internet, we are used to getting exactly what we are interested in, exactly when we want it.
Two questions to ask about your library in relation to this article:
1. How is your library catering to people's "own quirky interests?" Do you have a French hip-hop collection? Do you host 1960's kung-fu movie nights? In what ways can you improve?
2. How is your library working on bringing people back together? What universal themes can you focus on to create a sense of community again? With the breakdown of social capitol, Robert Putnam warned that people may have to start bowling alone... Are your patrons "reading alone," "watching alone," and "listening alone?" What can you do to make them do these things as a community?
* On pg. 60, the article "Geezer-Pleasers" offers tips for middle-aged people to discover new bands. They list the online music services Pandora, MyStrands, Mog, and Last.FM as great places to input your current musical interests to help get suggestions on new artists that sound similiar. Example: Syd Barrett = Blur = The Rain Parade.
What is your library doing to help patrons discover new music? Do you have a Pandora-esque service in which you suggest new bands based on interest in old bands, or the opposite for teens: interest in new bands and suggestions for old bands. If you don't, now would be a great opportunity to start. Consider putting together small packs of new CDs for patrons or having listening nights for new releases. The more music you recommend to patrons, the more they will come back to see you. They might even think that you're cool.