Saturday, March 23, 2013

Oregon State Librarian discusses changing role of libraries

A presentation by MaryKay Dahlgreen, the Oregon state librarian, about the changing role of libraries, is the subject of an article posted March 21 by the Medford Mail Tribune.

MaryKay Dahlgreen
MaryKay Dahlgreen
Dahlgreen was scheduled to speak March 21 at Southern Oregon University’s Hannon Library.

As related by freelance writer John Darling, Dahlgreen states that libraries are moving from “shifting their mission to delivering digital works to your computer and offering a ‘community setting’ for alternative, creative learning.”
“‘The big push is from collections to creations,’ she said, with less emphasis on ‘things from authors and artists.’ The new and imaginative growth areas are fan fiction and ‘maker spaces,’ she said. Fan fiction is creative writing in response to novels, in the style of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey,’ she explained, while maker spaces bring people together in libraries for arts, literature and crafts events.”
In spite of the change, libraries continue to play an “incredibly valuable role in the community.” Dahlgreen cites research showing that investment in libraries brings significant return and helps the economy grow.

As a backdrop to Dahlgreen’s talk, Darling reported that Jackson County services face a loss of federal timber subsidies. In 2007, voters opposed a ballot measure to fund libraries and the libraries closed “‘but it was telling (that) they reopened them, though with reduced services, so libraries are obviously important there.’”

According to Dahlgreen, libraries will rely more and more upon funding from communities.

As related in Darling’s article: “If voters turn their backs on libraries again, she said, it will rapidly affect growth and jobs because many people don't want to live in or move companies to a community that doesn’t support libraries.”

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