May 22, 2022

The NY Times Looks at How Some Libraries are “Breaking the Mold”

The Boston Public Library and several other urban libraries are discussed in a new NYT Times article.

Overall, it’s a good article but sadly it does not point out that while some libraries are able to afford renovations, new services, and new resources, other public libraries are not as fortunate and fight to maintain or just survive. As those of us in the library profession realize (do others?) that inequality of library services is an important issue.

Additionally, one type of library and librarian, the school library and librarian, continue to see jobs disappear as school libraries shutdown and administrators incorrectly believe they can replace the library and librarian with technology.

From the Article:

“You’ll be able to sit here and work and see the world go by,” said Amy Ryan, president of the library, on a recent tour. “We’re turning ourselves outward.”

Such plans might shock anyone who thought that in the digital age, libraries — those hushed sanctuaries of the past — had gone the way of the Postal Service.

“Just the opposite,” said Susan Benton, president and chief executive of the Urban Libraries Council. “Physical visits and virtual visits are off the charts.”


“When I [Amy Ryan] started out in the ’70s, you would walk up to the reference desk and ask a question and I would find an answer. Today it’s the opposite. People turn to librarians to help them sift through the 10 million answers they find on the Internet. We’re more like navigators.”

Read the Complete Article

Note From Gary

This would have been an ideal place for the author to have made a passing mention that many library services [with or without the assistance of a librarian] are accessible 24x7x365 with a library card from anywhere in the world with an Internet connection.

Said another way, the library/librarian and some of the material can not only be found and accessed in a library building but are also accessible from home, office, hotel room, iPhone, etc.

In today’s world when more time is spent accessing information “on the go” the library community must demonstrate that in many cases the library (as an institution) and librarians are always ready, willing, and able to assist. The “always on” library needs to be stressed.

See Also: Work Begins Soon on Makeover of Boston Public Library’s Copley Branch, Will Include More Space for Kids, Teens (December 3, 2013)
1200+ word report.

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.