Joe is a sought after expert on Libraries, and he has some interesting theories on how they should function, both now and into the future. I am not certain in what capacity he was hired, or how much sway he has with these Library worthies. I guess we'll just have to wait a little and see.
But he did write a notable book, one that could very well have caught the attention of certain concerned residents in Sierra Madre. So much so that they might want to change the way the library gets done. More on that in a minute. Here is how Joe is mentioned in the 12.18 meeting agenda of the Community Services Commission (link):
The Library Board of Trustees are meeting further with their Library Planner/ Consultant, Joe Matthews, and Community Services Commission is being extended an invitation to share in their discussions next month January. More information will be forthcoming.
More information hasn't been forthcoming I'm afraid, or if it has I cannot find it. Perhaps Joe will be at the meeting tomorrow night, but I can't confirm that, either. Like all consultants he must be charging something for his services, yet I don't know how much or who paid it. I'm sure there was a budget to tap into for this somewhere. There usually is these days. Things are much more checkbook lately.
However, and as we noted above, Joe Matthews did write a book. It is called "The Customer Focused Library," and if the information put out by his publisher is any indication, it must be a very exciting one. Or at least as far as books about libraries go. At $50 bucks a pop, and for a mere 95 pages, including pictures, it had better be.
Here is an interesting blurb, which comes to us from the book's publisher, an outfit called ABC-CLIO Solutions (link).
"Public libraries aren’t just libraries anymore. More and more, they are becoming alternative Internet cafes, music stores, movie stores, study halls, and more. But instead of making changes piecemeal to accommodate a changing world and a changing audience, it is time for libraries to be reconceived from the ground up—or more precisely, from the outside in."
It would be pretty cool if the new library did have a Starbucks, like Barnes & Noble. I know that would get my kids there. In a city heartbeat. Just bring your laptop, Beats headphones, and a few Facebook friends.
Here it is in an original context, followed by a book flyer put out by the publisher.
Don't get me wrong, all of this isn't necessarily bad. It certainly is modern, cutting edge, and up to date. As they say. And I am sure it is a well-intentioned effort to make libraries relevant again in a world that is increasingly overwhelmed by the decentralizing forces of the digital revolution. Hardly the easiest thing to do.
But here's a point that someone made on this site a few days ago. Aren't these all the sorts of things things that kids, and most adults for that matter, already have at home? Do people really need to go to a library to take in all that the Internet already has to offer? Can't they just pull out their laptops and do the same things just about anywhere else? Such as laying on a couch with their feet up?
It seems to me that the biggest challenge libraries face nowadays is getting people off of their computers and back into books. Reading can be hard, it takes some real effort. And who has the time when you're far too busy doing other things? Like surfing the Internet?
What Matthews is offering here is a kind of capitulation to the very forces that are making libraries increasingly irrelevant these days. Apparently what library customers consume is no longer of importance. Now it is just the matter of getting them into the building that counts.
But these aren't the sorts of things you need to go to a library to experience. And I am not sure that many people would.