Friday, March 30, 2007

Minneapolis Libraries - Best in America


The Minneapolis Library System is more than a center for research and academia. It is a cultural asset to the diverse residents of Minneapolis. The depth of its catalog appealing to young manga fans and those of classic literature. And music from the Dixie Chicks to Chicks on Speed.

The library enhances culture here by its the willingness to purchase materials requested by patrons. Rather than questioning the merit of each purchase intensely ( as outstate systems do) they prefer to obtain them. Instead of buying 100 copies of Harry Potter, they buy 50 and purchase 5 copies of 10 additional books/cds/dvds that are much less "mainstream."

And yes, I ended up buying the Harry Potter books because I couldn't wait months to get one at the library. I have lent it to friends, so it has gotten use. But I would rather have it this way than deprive the library of its inclusiveness.

A prime example of a fringe item the library purchased that few suburban counterparts would is Doctor Who:The Complete First Season. I requested this through my local library on Franklin Avenue. Doctor Who is my favorite TV Show: a British, science fiction, drama. Only shown on cable and not mainstream Americana. The single copy was requested so many times they ordered 5 additional copies ( one criticism is that all copies will go through the one branch on Franklin Avenue). This type of situation can be multiplied many times throughout this amazing library system.

The Minneapolis Library System embraced the concept of the Long Tail long before it was coined. Many conservatives claim that government should be run more likes businesss. While government is not a business, it can learn from their effieciencies. And the Minneapolis Library System has shown innovation long before businesses took on its concepts. A merger with the Hennepin County Library System will diminish this priceless institution.

I challenge anyone out there to check out their website at mplib.org and search for things they consider "fringe." Search an author/musician/actor you love but few know of , I bet they have nearly every copy of their published works . You can request items online and have them delivered to a local branch - similiar to Netflix. One can easily see this is all proof that the Minneapolis Libraries are the best in the entire United States.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I take offense at your insinuation that Hennepin County Library will "diminish" Minneapolis city system!
Each has its merits and, fortunately, until now, Hennepin seems a bit more adept at financial management.
I just hope if the merger goes thru -- and I hope it won't, Hennepin County Library and its patrons will not have to put up with lesser service!
I have used Hennepin County Library many years and have always been able to get the materials I needed in a timely manner. I have nothing but praise for their service.

Kevin Chavis said...

The service at a merged library system would not decrease. What I pointed out was the depth of cultural resources in Minneapolis beyond academic materials.

Instead of purchasing something possibly deemed "fringe" libraries would opt for what is thought of as "popular." A Short-term gain for a long-term loss.

My Doctor Who videos would be ignored to purchase 10 copies of "Desperate Housewives." Which may not be as popular 40 years from now. The Long Tail trend at Minneapolis may cease to be with Hennepin.

The things you end up waiting in a long queue for in Minneapolis are popular new-release items lik Harry Potter. They purchase less of these to increase catalog depth and variety.