Are customers also "containers"?

In a meeting today I heard a colleague talk eloquently about “information containers” and how over the last dozen or so years (actually it was span of over 100 years) the “containers” have changed, but really “information” (and the core service of information provision) really has not. In so many ways, I completely agreed with what he said, but it also got me thinking … and wondering … not so much so about the “information” part, but rather the container part…

Are not our customers also “containers” (ie community containers) and shouldn’t we be building tools and creating spaces within our libraries to harvest and allow customers to actively share their collective knowledge for the benefit of our communities as well?

Just a question… what are your thoughts?

PS: I know, I don't like the word "harvest" either -- it sounds so Stephen Kingish -- in the sentence above. But at the moment, I couldn't think of anything better.


Polyxena said...

I'm sure that our library "users" are certainly information containers and we are too. I just don't quite think it is what I want to start calling them :>).

Cycho Librarian said...

An interesting way to look at that view is to think about how much the technology and other new "containers" have been aimed at improving connections and communication. The benefits to accessing information are really ancillary to the larger goal of connecting people and ideas.

I think the traditional library view continues to be of information as something that is stored and retrieved, rather than something that is created and shared. I don't think changing the view of users to containers of information in their own right is the way to change the larger view of what information is and what we're doing. But it certainly is another piece pointing to the trend of information as connections, and libraries as connection hubs.