Libraries can embrace the change that PDA presents
I’m intrigued by the concept of PDA for Libraries, that is Patron Driven Acquisition of library material, typically digital. In simple terms it means the library patrons decide what they want to read rather then the library trying to guess for them. So the library pays for what the patrons select. Sounds a bit scary if you assume that a library might be required to purchase any material just because someone requests it. But of course it is far more controlled then that and with the sophistication of online purchasing, renting, and borrowing formulas, PDA appears to offer great savings opportunity. Steve Kolowich’s article “Affection for PDA” does a good job of explaining the business process.
Will the PDA model dramatically change libraries as we know them? Well the simple comparison of how print has given way to digital represented by bookstores being replaced by online ordering probably guarantees change is coming. Does it mean our libraries are replaced by the mega information repositories of Google and Amazon? Let’s hope not. So how does a library leverage this change? They can embrace it as added value for their patrons in order to help them acquire the right information. This probably drives the librarian transitioning from the curator of information to discerner of information. And with the overwhelming amount of information needing discernment I believe the librarian is more important then ever. But it is change and change is the challenge that our libraries are facing.