Information Wants to be . . .

Bah humbug. ‘Tis the season to be saturated with consumerism. I’m tired of advertisements. I’m especially tired of advertisements that purport to be tailored to “my interests” by looking over my shoulder.

Yes, Google. I’m talking to you. Not just because you do it, but because now everyone wants into the act.

I’d heard of British libraries inserting advertising into books. That was extremely distasteful. But this program really takes the cake.

Wait, what am I saying? It doesn’t take the cake, it waits for you check out a cookbook and entices you to buy the ingredients at a particular store. According to the Orlando Sentinel:

On Saturday, the Leesburg Public Library kicked off a program to link patrons with community vendors and activities.

The program, Youniquely 4 U, is free for anyone who holds a Lake County Library card, and it offers personal recommendations and coupons based on what a library patron checks out, drawing from general categories of the patron’s book or video selections to suggest similar events or businesses.

“It’s similar to what you would see at Amazon,” the online retailer, said Stuart Sugarbread, events director with Youniquely 4 U. “The library can now serve up all of the resources it has to a person at the time they’re most interested in them.” . . .

Barbara Morse, the library’s director, said Checkpoint Systems Inc., a New Jersey security company, first approached her about the program earlier this year. The library had a prior relationship with Checkpoint because it uses the company’s technology to prevent people from stealing materials.

Morse said she views the program much like any other database subscription, except that rather than just providing links to other library materials, it also connects people to products, services and activities that are available throughout the whole community.

“I hope it’s going to provide our patrons with another level of information,” she said, “and that makes us more valuable.”

Valuable to whom? And is there not some irony that this product is coming from a company that prevents theft of materials? It only takes your privacy. Bizarrely enough, the library does not make money from this benighted scheme, they apparently pay for the service.

And since when did libraries consider advertising “another level of information”? God help us.

Author: Barbara Fister

I'm an academic librarian at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota. Like all librarians at our small, liberal arts institution I am involved in reference, collection development, and shared management of the library. My area of specialization is instruction, with research interests also in media literacy, popular literacy, publishing, and assessment.

3 thoughts on “Information Wants to be . . .”

  1. Well, given the number of negative comments, if it were my library I’d certainly reconsider the whole thing! Maybe we’ve finally found the point at which library services and Madison Avenue marketing really don’t mix!

  2. “I’m tired of advertisements.”

    Think of ads as art and your perception changes. Don’t get too hung up on what they are trying to say, but focus on the visual and emotional impact of what you see.

  3. Amen to this post! I would NOT want this service because, frankly, I am bothered enough by unsolicited snail mail and email. I am drowning in it! Does the library plan to check with its ciustomer base to find out how they feel about the service before renewing?

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