May 25, 2022

Mike Shatzkin Comments on "Libraries Don't Make Sense Anymore" Comment/Article

Yesterday, we posted a link to an article in Canada’s Globe and Mail about comments made by publishing industry consultant and pundit, Mike Shatzkin. The title of the G&M article is, “Mike Shatzkin in Montreal: Libraries Don’t Make Sense Anymore.”

Along with the link we also asked some questions and shared some reactions and ruminations based on about what Shatzkin said and going well beyond.

Today, Mike posted some thoughts and context about the comment along with some responses and reactions to a few of the things what we wrote about. It’s worthwhile reading and provides a loft of things to think about and discuss as compared to his 45 word comment in Montreal.

The post is titled, “It will be hard to find a public library 15 years from now” and is available on his Shatzkin Files blog.

We’re going to take some time this weekend and continue the discussion.

However, right now one comment and one thank you.

First, yesterday we asked if Shatzkin’s comment applied to all libraries or one or more types of libraries.

Today, he writes:

Simple answer: consumer libraries. Libraries that serve a professional constituency — academic or otherwise — are outside the scope of these predictions.

Now we have an answer direct from the author. We had a feeling he was talking about public and perhaps academic libraries but now we know he is talking only specifically about public.

Our comment here is what we first said last night. It’s easy to talk about libraries as a single type of entity but we know that libraries can differ greatly from one type to another and can also differ from one library to the next in the same category. Perhaps it’s time to begin and make this point to library users, friends, and stakeholders. The extra time and effort it takes to explain the differences is more than NOT trying it. It’s also important to do it before a problem or crises arises.

We could begin with a limited test of the idea. If that’s the way to go the library world could begin with people who work in businesses that deal with libraries regularly like publishing and the media.

Differences in definitions can lead to misunderstandings, wasted time, and possibly worse. If we don’t explain the differences between libraries who else will?

Second, we would like to thank Mr. Shatzkin for his kind words about our post yesterday. A cordial and professional discussion can be very enlightening. Perhaps discussing where we’re all going together (libraries, librarians, publishers, database aggregators, copyright experts, etc.) we can share, learn, and perhaps even find ways to actively work together. We realize this is easier said than done but it might be worth at least attempting.

More later.


About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.