Back in 1978, California passed Proposition 13, which began the defunding of many public services, including libraries. It was the beginning of what was branded right away as the Tax Revolt. The journal of academic librarianship understood it right away. An editorial by RMD in the July issue of that year referring to librarians said, “They must sell libraries to their communities.” After what was a stirring call to action, librarians did not act to sell libraries to their communities nor do anything else recommended in the article. The trend of defunding went nationwide and continues to this day.
At last year’s Library 2.0 conference, Ravi Singh of Demco talked about the potential of using Blockchain to build networks. He pointed out that if libraries act, they can build their own network and verify their own transactions without third parties.
In the background of this sentiment is the fact that OCLC, the third party, began as a cooperative and remains one. This is in spite of what many regard as corporate customer service and conduct, complete with layoffs in 2010 and again in 2015. While membership can be defined in many ways, this cooperative does not even inspire the vaguest sense of belonging one might feel with Costco or Amazon Prime.
The questions remain. Will we act? If we do not act to be treated as members, will we act to build our own networks? Is the Chilean Blockchain network the future of libraries or a one-off?