Since September 2012, I have been studying Digital Humanities. On the course, amongst other things, we have looked at the role of libraries in the 21st Century and more importantly, how their role is changing. I blogged about public libraries it on my course related blog.
Today, I finally went to join my local library in Phibsboro. Located where Blaquiere Bridge used to be on the North Circular Road, the library is housed in a small building, set back off the road. Inside, it’s just one room, with shelves of books all around. It’s pretty well-stocked for its size and has a good selection of audio books, DVDs, travel books. It also has a large selection of fiction.
It was when I tried to join, I ran into a problem. It is the same problem that I have run into when joining other institutions also – a lack of paper bills. All my utility bills and bank statements are eBilling now. I don’t have a phone bill since going back to college and bar the odd letter which gets delivered, everything is online. I had my P60 from work which has my address on it and thought that would be sufficient (and it was), but only after I went through a series of hushed explanations about why I don’t get bills. Then there was a problem that there was another Emma Louise Clarke on the system, a junior member, and I had to verify (a number of times) that it wasn’t me; that I had once been a junior member, but in Cork, and over twenty years ago. Finally, I had established my identity, and I was given my card. Just before I went off to browse, the librarian lamented how society is going with everyone doing everything on their phones and not even getting bills.
I didn’t get into it there in the quiet library where people were browsing and reading, but I was really disappointed with the exchange. I was underwhelmed by that opinion there, because it kind of goes against what I feel libraries should be embracing in 2013. People have a world of information at their fingertips now. Libraries need to diversify and move in new directions and I think this should begin within the building. One of the first things could be to acknowledge that all people do not receive post anymore.
I’m not going to let this experience put me off. Quite the opposite. I took out two books which I have to bring back in three weeks and the beauty of Dublin libraries is that I can bring the books back to any branch and using my card, I can borrow from any branch. I saw a number of audio books which I’d like to get stuck into and they have Series 1 – 4 of Mad Men which I might try to get into again when I’m finished studying.