MultiGrain Discussion: Even when “something’s gotta give,” libraries are thriving…right? Join the debate!

With low usage and shrinking budgets, libraries are challenged to justify resource investments now more than ever. At the same time, information users are ill prepared to navigate the amount and quality of content on the web. This creates a tremendous opportunity for libraries to show that they are well equipped to help users navigate information resources and for users to benefit from this guidance.

Credo Reference’s Libraries Thriving and Against the Grain’s Multi-Grain are online collaborative communities that both tackle these issues separately.  Because there are such solid arguments on both sides, Libraries Thriving and Multi-Grain have decided to team up to consider the whole picture. They are sponsoring an Oxford-style live debate, including audience participation and voting, at the upcoming Charleston Conference and want to hear what you have to say! In preparation for the live debate, the conversation is starting here on on Multi-Grain (for those in proposition) and on Libraries Thriving (for those in opposition).

So are libraries thriving? If you say yes, reply to this post with your arguement. If you say no, head over to Libraries Thriving to join those in opposition.  Then, if you’re also interested in participating in the live debate but unable to attend the Charleston conference, register for an online seat to participate remotely*. Let the discussion begin!

Charleston Conference 2011
Even When “Something’s Gotta Give” Libraries Are Thriving:
An Oxford-Style Debate with Libraries Thriving and Multi-Grain

Friday, November 4 from 12:45 PM – 2:00 PM

In Proposition:

  • Sandy Hirsh, Professor and Director, School of Library and Information Science, San Jose State University
  • Jill Emery, Collection Development Librarian, Portland State University
  • Derek Law, Professor Emeritus, University of Strathclyde

In Opposition:

  • Mike Sweet, CEO, Credo Reference
  • Tim Cherubini, Director, Regional Services, LYRASIS
  • Tim Bucknell, Assistant Dean of University Libraries, University of North Carolina Greensboro


*A recording of the debate will be available on both Libraries Thriving and Multi-Grain.


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5 thoughts on “MultiGrain Discussion: Even when “something’s gotta give,” libraries are thriving…right? Join the debate!

  1. Jeannine Berroteran October 7, 2011 at 11:05 am -

    While libraries are facing tough financial challenges (and they will have to come up with ways to adequately serve the public with less resources), I believe libraries are (and will continue to thrive) thriving. Their mission may slightly change and what they will need to meet the demands of a changing society will change but, judging from the different types of libraries I have been in (small & large academic and public libraries in large cities, small towns, and rural areas), I do not think the library, as an institution, will be going away anytime soon. As long as people will have a need for a library, the library will be there for them and it will have to transform to meet the ever changing needs of a changing society.

  2. Sara Bahnmaier October 7, 2011 at 1:51 pm -

    I think municipal,county and state libraries haven’t seen the end of budget cutting yet. How much will be preserved? Some libraries will go away for good or branches and hours cut drastically. In an age of Internet information discovery, voters and leaders will be less inclined to restore them once the crisis is past, until the other non-expendable civil services are fully provided once again, e.g., schools, police & fire, environmental and recreational, etc.

  3. I can only respond based on the three public libraries and one academic library I’ve visited this year. All of them were very busy at various times of day. I’ve seen heavy use of the children’s library in two locations and heavy computer use in all locations. I think it’s important to note that the thriving library of tomorrow will not look the same as the thriving library of yesterday. Technology and interests are constantly changing. As long as libraries keep up with technology and local interests, they can find ways to respond to their communities’ needs. And yes, that means that they will continue to thrive.

  4. The whole starting premise of “low usage and shrinking budgets” is an assumption, not a fact. Our library’s budget has declined in recent years, but our usage levels have drastically increased. By usage, I mean circulation, in-person visits, and website / OPAC usage. This last measure of electronic use is something that’s frequently overlooked as the count of reference questions declines.

  5. Libraries and Libraians are fast adapting to the changes in user needs and the various types and forms in which information is available today. In the age of Information overdose, users are returning to the Library where they can get quick access to the precise information that they need. Yes, Libraies are thriving inspite of budget cuts and will continue to do so.