Have Passport, Will Travel

passportAnd now from the “If only this had happened just a bit sooner” file….

MPOW will officially become a Passport Office on Monday August 10th.  Ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate will take place at our East Columbia Branch at 11:00 am that Monday.

Oh, how I wish either my trip to Spain had been a bit later this year or that the Passport Office had been ready a bit earlier.  Having to take the MARC train and Metro to the Regional Passport Office in Washington D.C. was not fun.  I had to go there once myself and my husband went the next day for me to actually pickup the passport (name change and it had expired).

The residents of Columbia, Howard County and Central Maryland don’t know how lucky they are.  They won’t have to fight commuter traffic to go to D.C. or stand in line at the post office bored out of their mind.  Instead if they do have to wait they have the whole library at their disposal to keep them occupied – books galore, plenty of computers with access to the Internet, periodicals, newspapers, books on CD, Playaways and lots more.

This is just another in a great line of services that we offer our community.  Makes me proud.

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If

Many have speculated that the rise of superbook stores like Barnes & Noble or Borders heralded the end of the library.  So far that hasn’t happened.  Both have managed to survive and in some cases even foster a partnership or symbiotic relationship.  Then Google and the Internet in general was surely going to bring down the grand ol’ library of yesteryear.  Made a dent but has it totally demolished libraries, I’d say no.

But what if people found what they were searching for – would they still use your library’s web site?  catalog?  come into the building?  ask the staff?  During a meeting today that was discussing usability, I commented that I really want to know what the remote user is doing on our web site or catalog.  Because we don’t hear from them.  Someone else piped up and said “we only hear from them [meaning the customer] when they can’t find something”.

The main goal for me in usability is to find what isn’t working, what isn’t intuitive, what isn’t user friendly and then fix it.  So if we that, made everything easy to find, would we only see our customers for their reserves (barring going the way of Netflix and mailing everything) or our programs/classes/events?  Sure our die-hard fans would still come in.  But if the goal is to make everything easier to find (discovery and delivery again) would we see an increase of web usage but a decrease in door counts?

I’m not suggesting that we make our web sites or catalogs harder to use to keep customers calling in or asking at the information desks.  I’m just pondering the day when we can actually give the customer everything he is searching for (assuming he is coming in via the web) without having to step foot into a physical building.  I don’t see it as a demise of libraries but just another chapter (pardon the pun) that will require library staff to rethink what it means to not only be a librarian but a library.

Give me YouTube or Give me Death?

Viacom’s lawsuit to threaten Internet freedom according to Google.  Things that make you go hmmm…