Who are our peers?

Yesterday we had a meeting with a vendor – I should clarify – we had a meeting with a non-library vendor. When asked if our peers were using this new product, the vendor asked a pretty straightforward question, “Well, who do you consider your peers to be?” What’s your answer? Other libraries? That’s what I was thinking – but he elaborated, “Your role is to provide information – so I see your peers as other information providers – if that’s the case then, yes your peers are using our tool.”

What an interesting answer – and I love that it’s from someone who doesn’t deal with libraries on a regular basis. This goes a bit too how people see libraries. Someone – and I can’t remember who now – was ranting about how libraries don’t want to be like big book store chains – because we’re different. Well, apparently, people don’t think so – we’re all information providers and so we’re all peers. I like this idea a lot – I can’t explain why (well I probably could if I weren’t taking a quick break from homework), but it’s just something that feels right to me.

Just something I wanted to share before my mind became boggled down with MARC, Statutes, and Six Sigma (my three finals).


  1. I think you are on to something, Nicole. Whether it is NCSU enhancing their catalog with Endeca or materials processing vendors making a showing in the ALA vendor exhibition, libraries — in the whole scheme of things — are a small but meaningful segment for non-traditionally-library vendors. The corollary is something like “what can we learn from and/or adopt from other industries.” I’m not sure we’re quite so good at that…

  2. I also think that the lines are blurring all over the place. One area that interests me particularly, libraries are publishing their own digital collections – does that make the publishers are our peers? I don’t know the answer to that – but I do agree that whether you think of them as peers or not – we do need to adopt some of their methods and technologies – why re-invent the wheel?

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