Where is our Steve Jobs? Ok, maybe not Steve Jobs exactly, but libraries are in dire need of someone to push us to the next level. We need someone to take the stage and move us, our industry, and the user experience to the next level.
Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, Howard Schultz push their organizations and ultimately entire industries to next levels. But in libraries, many of the innovations that we so desperately need are not even controlled by librarians. Yes, I’m going to rant some more about our awful vendors. Our vendors have not brought us a new ILS ever! That’s right, more than 30 years later our ILS still basically functions and does the same exact thing it did. Our ILS is built on a card catalog system, so in essence, we still run a card catalog. And those original ILS systems were created by librarians then turned over to vendors. Its 2013 and most of our ILS vendors can’t even deliver a web-based system, instead we have a crappy client application.
Our vendors, most controlled by equity firms and venture capitalists, have 1 motive. They are ONLY interested in making money. While many of us didn’t vote for Mitt Romney, we have let people of his ilk run libraries for far too long.
The vendors have absolutely no desire to improve the experience for our patrons. As a result, we now have to deal with so many vendors. We have patched together some Frankenstein style experience for our users. We have a website, an ILS, mobile app, eBook vendor(s), database vendors, book cover vendor, review vendor, events registration, PC reservation and print management vendor nightmare.
Our system should be designed like Apple, Amazon or Google. Amazon doesn’t have a separate interface, vendor, application or experience for finding books, reviewing books, or even checking books out. Their eBooks and print books are on ONE FRIGGIN SCREEN. How hard is this? I have written about learning from Apple. We need to have a fully integrated and controlled experience for our users. Our service needs to be integrated, simple, and beautiful.
But while we need to address the issues of vendors, user experience and control, we really need a library leader to stand up and lead the rest of us. Yes, there are many great library personalities. Many good librarians are doing awesome and inspiring things, but is any of it that different? So I leave you with this Think Differently video