Reflection on the Foundational Readings

The foundational readings are from 1992, 2007, and 2012. You could say that a lot has changed since even the most recent one was written, but what they write about libraries still applies today. Part of the reason for this is that even though it is fashionable for libraries to claim to embrace change, for a lot of them, change has been slow in coming.

We all know Dokk1 is doing great, but what about my local library?

Buckland (1992) writes that from the late 1800s up until the 1970s there was relatively little need to seriously reexamine library services, and certainly little need to reexamine what libraries were for (Foundations of Library Service section, para. 8).  There is reason to now, but as Casey and Savastinuk (2007) point out, libraries tend to resist change even as they lose the interest of their users. I don’t think we have lost the interest of as many users as they feared, but it’s been thirteen years since that was written, and Stephens (2020) argues that people still think libraries are all about books. If they do, it is our fault.

I don’t always agree with everything that Mathews (2012) writes. If libraries copy the business world too much they might lose what makes them libraries. Change has to purposeful, and we need to decide what that the goal of those changes is going to be (Casey and Savastinuk, 2007). If we can take what is good, and leave the bad, then fine. Mathews (2012) is certainly right that libraries could use some big ideas. Using technology to do what libraries have always done, but better, is a part of change that libraries have embraced, but that is only part of what they need to do. Libraries need some big ideas, and at the same time they also need to hold on to what makes them libraries. That’s not going to be easy, but I think librarians are up to it. 


Buckland, M. (1992). Redesigning library services: A manifesto [PDF file]. Chicago, IL: American Library Association. Retrieved from

Casey, M. E., & Savastinuk, L. C. (2007). Library 2.0: A guide to participatory library service [PDF file]. Medford, N.J: Information Today. Retrieved from

Mathews, B. (2012). Think like a startup: A white paper to inspire library entrepreneurialism. Retrieved from

Mørk, A. (n.d.). Dokk1 VisitAarhus [JPEG image]. Retrieved from

Stephens, M. (2020). Hyperlinked library model [Panopto video]. Retrieved from

3 thoughts on “Reflection on the Foundational Readings

  1. One of many things that appeal to me about Mathews is that he gets us thinking about what might be possible if pull in practices from business culture. The profit motive falls away for libraries, and we are left with looking at how to encourage innovation and improvements.

    • @michael, that is a good point. I think one of the reasons that startups have been so successful is that they have subverted traditional corporate hierarchies, which encourages innovation and improves morale. Flattening the hierarchies of libraries is something we have talked about in this class multiple times, and I love it. In my opinion, most problematic business practices come from excessive hierarchy, but there is no reason that libraries should have to make the same mistakes. Like you said, we can take the best practices and focus on innovation and improvements.

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