The always popular Tuesday evening session was moderated by Erik Boekesteijn and featured four teams debating in a “Death Match”. Contestants appeared in a variety of costumes which added to the interest in the session.
David Lee King: Apps win every time; mobile users spend 86% of their time using apps. Apps provide a better user experience. Let users browse with their fingers. What’s your goal, to get to first base or have a home run? Apps just work better on phones. They offer better personalization and notifications.
Marshall Breeding: The context of libraries is different. If only users cared enough to download the app, then put it on their phone, apps might be useful. There is one interface for the web–Facebook, Amazon, library websites, etc. If you don’t have a responsive website, you are sunk. Most libraries don’t have good websites. If you are going to do something, do it once for everything. Apps don’t work out in a library context. If your website is not responsively designed, you won’t be in Google’s mobile index and will be invisible.
Amazon vs. Libraries
Amy Affelt used an example of Amazon’s service at the time of the recent total solar eclipse. The eclipse required glasses which were supposed to be available in libraries, but they didn’t have any. Some libraries had counterfeit glasses, but Amazon gave refunds for those and live-streamed the eclipse. They even sold cookies that looked like the eclipse.
Amazon Prime costs $99/year and you get a lot for that. It is quicker than going to the library in many cases. Amazon books is a “store without walls”. It has healthy meals in their cafes.
People are loyal to a brand if it makes their lives more convenient with lessons and classes like Amazon’s “treasure truck”. How do we launch a bidding war among cities like Amazon has done?
Frank Cervone countered that Amazon does not deliver everywhere, and you have to have an infrastructure to support Amazon Prime. Amazon’s website is culturally insensitive. Amazon is destroying the economy; small businesses are being destroyed, which is contributing to the decline of the middle class. Does Amazon exist in small cities? Libraries can do a much better job at delivering their information resources; they don’t need to be in the food delivery business. Amazon is a bad citizen and is here just to make a profit. It exploits its workers and is making your country stupid. When bookstores went out of business, reading declined. At libraries, people can learn things and get intellectual material that they don’t have to pay for.
Libraries vs. Robots
Brian Pichman said that robots are better than libraries because they are more efficient. Amazon got rid of humans because they were not efficient. Robots can detect an emotional state and respond. Their error rates are lower than human’s. Can a human identify fake news? A robot can. They can make the world better because of this. They can replace librarians so librarians can solve human-based issues for their community. Does Steven know everything like a robot does?
Steven Abram. Robots can tell emotions? Are you insane? Can a robot cry? Can they intuit and know when they are talking to somebody and ask what their level of legal knowledge is? Can a robot tell you where a safe house is? The essence of being human is in writing poetry, creating joy, etc. Errors are how we learn; robots require machine learning. When we fail, we find an ability to rise above the human condition. Empathy cannot be computerized.
Libraries vs. Museums
Nina Simon. Libraries are all about transactions and museums are all about experiences. Value is in experiences and not bar codes. You can check out a book on making something or come to a museum and see it. People use libraries like machines; they get lost in museums. When you go on vacation you go to a museum; nobody says “let”s go to the library”. People want what museums have so much that they are willing to pay to get into them. The audience for a museum is the entire community. What people value is what they desire. You don’t have to hire anybody with 4 letters after their name to do a job. Museums can do whatever they want; they don’t have to convince any boards.
Corinne Hill. Museums are so possessive of their paintings. Libraries are back. Grab a book and take a look. They are innovating. Libraries love patrons of all ages; everyone is welcome. Our patrons are stars. If you want value, we have it. Let’s hold hands, collaborate with museums, and help people create. Innovation is what drives libraries forward. You may have thought books were old news, but libraries have circulated a million of them! They empower and help people with all things.