Services to Adults 2000 Meeting Minutes

MOUSS Services to Adults Committee

2000 Annual Meeting Report

At the July 8, 2000 meeting, the committee talked about who would be chair for next year. We then made final plans and assignments for the program.

The committee presented a program on July 9 from 2 to 4. The program drew about 175-200 people and was called "A Place for Place: The Non-Virtual Library in a Virtual World." Panelists were Deborah Jacobs, City Librarian of the Seattle Public Library; Monica Metz-Wiseman, Virtual Library Project Manager at the University of South Florida Libraries; and Phil Myrick, Project Manager for Project for Public Spaces, a non-profit organization that helps urban areas rebuild communities. Each panelist gave a brief summary of what they are currently doing and how it related to the program. Phil presented some interesting slides on good and bad buildings in terms of being inviting. The moderator, Chuck Dintrone (chair of the committee) then read a series of ten questions that each panelist had a chance to respond to.

The questions were:
1. What is your definition of a library?
2. Should the library be a community center? This includes the academic library as the center of the campus. How does physical space impact on the library as a community center? Can some services be better provided via the Internet?
3. What is the relevance of libraries in an age of super-bookstores, on-line book dealers, cyber cafes, copy services, interactive museums, etc.?
4. Who uses the virtual library? Who uses the physical library?
5. How does the library (virtual or physical) serve special needs groups? Examples are immigrants, disabled, and seniors, non-readers (both those who don't read and those who can't). Can one type of library (virtual or physical) better serve any or all of these groups?
6. How does the virtual library or the physical library address the needs of those who do not have computers or do not know how to use them?
7. What does the virtual library do that a physical library can not? What does the physical library do that a virtual library can not?
8. How important are human interactions in society? Does a live person in a physical setting add to the value of library interactions?
9. Who would miss your library the most if you closed your doors? (This question was also asked on the evaluation form and results may prove interesting)
10. What will the future library and library user be like?

The general consensus of the panel was that there are some good things that virtual libraries can do (24/7service, distance users, lack of physical barriers, etc.) but that the sense of community and the need for human contact make a physical building still a necessity. Phil emphasized the need to make it a welcoming building and a part of a renewal of the neighborhood along with parks and other civic buildings and services.

Who will miss the library according to the panelists - immigrants when first arrive, those who cannot afford computers and books and the intellectual (often wealthy) community (Deborah Jacobs); those who need a place to congregate and to contact other humans (Phil Myrick); undergraduates for physical building, graduate students and distance learners for virtual (Monica Metz-Wiseman). Someone in the audience summed up the situation best when they said why not give the public choices - there is a place for both the virtual and the physical.

At Monday's meeting, the committee discussed the program and went over the evaluations in a preliminary way. There was then discussion on what the committee will do next. There was a consensus that we should use the program to follow up with a publication of some sort - web or print, bibliography or summary of program, building on the program. There were also ideas for a program in 2002 based on this program - interior space barriers to good service; the role of human intervention in services to adults. Elie Kilpatrick of Brooklyn Public Library agreed to chair the committee, possibly with a co-chair.

Submitted by,
Chuck Dintrone