I think there is a lot of room for creativity, adaptability, and alternative service methods for libraries; adopting new approaches, encouraging community collaboration and focusing on non-traditional services does not automatically indicate that a library has strayed “off message”. The “message” of library service is debatable, but I think we can all agree that its primary purpose is to provide information to users. Libraries cannot adequately serve a changing community if they chain themselves to traditional service. Changes in community demographics and available technology must be accommodated for if the modern library is expected to fulfill its mission. Broadening the type of resources and services offered, in addition to providing non-traditional means of engagement may be a necessary step in serving modern information users.
Change is simply a necessary part of the territory. The amount and quality of information available, as well as the storage media and file formats available, are in a constant state of flux. Libraries work to provide a connection between people and information; if the people the library serves and the materials and resources it provides change, the services offered by the library must follow suit. Modern librarians must be able to understand the needs of their service communities in order to fulfill those needs while maintaining consideration for the institution’s mission and goals. The risk associated with incorporating new services – traditional and non-traditional – should be mediated by careful consideration of the target audience, the potential benefit provided by the new service, and whether it adheres to the organization’s overall goals. Community collaboration is vital to understanding a community and identifying its needs so that services can be tailored to meet patron expectations. In my opinion, strict adherence to outdated methods of providing access to information is a far more risky and damaging approach than shifting a focus to non-traditional services and community collaboration.