The new public library in the Docklands has opened and, while I have yet to visit, I have been following the hubbub from colleagues on FB. Most seem impressed by the building and its offer, but there has been a fair amount of consternation over the name.
While labelled in all media as Library at the Dock, the building itself is just called The Dock. These has raised the passion in loud’n’proud librarians – “a library is library, call it what it is!!!! We should be proud of libraries and maintain the brand.”
Others counter that we need to embrace change.
I’m not totally sure of where I stand on this. Both sides have some merit.
The technological reference of a ‘dock’ may conjure an attractive alternative to those that see libraries as marketing the traditional brand of books. This may in turn attract those who would never venture into a ‘library’.
However, to the general populace, does ‘library’ still mean books? With 45% of the population of Victoria registered members of public libraries, how prevalent is the staid branding of books, and how aware is the community of the variety on offer through their local libraries. I’m not sure if the 45% is a good stat or an inadequate one.
The 45% does equal enough people to fill the MCG more than 25 times, but at the same time – what is the other 55% doing? I’ve always found with data and statistics that you can always find numbers to prove any point you desire – it’s all dependent on what comparisons are made. And perhaps what is omitted. (I once had a consultant offer in interview to undertake an audit that could prove whatever end result I wanted!)
What I am not beholden to is the desire of library professionals to enforce library language on the unassuming public. I am over jargon. I know it means a great deal to staff, but does it matter how the public refer to things – as long as the intent is understood? Does calling a library ‘a library’ fall into this category?
I don’t find ‘The Dock’ totally offensive as some may. I understand the drive of libraries, and their gods, to ensure their relevance by trying to attract whoever they can through their doors. Relevance = longevity + $$.
I am sure there are many other takes on this I haven’t even touched upon, and I know it can be a terse topic. My fence sitting will probably piss some off, but there you go. I am passionate about what libraries offer, but don’t really care what they are called.
For illustration I have pinched a colleague’s photo of The Dock… I’m sure she won’t mind.