As published in The Irish Times.
"A library is a place of human interaction." Well, not really-- at least, that hardly seems one of its defining characteristics.
I don't like the idea of staffless libraries, but I think it should be (or at least, it will be) the public who decides whether they want or don't want them. Libraries themselves have been cutting their own throats by pushing people towards self-service machines and trying to make every interaction an online interaction, The argument is always that there is more productive, stimulating work to be done behind the scenes and that it is "freeing up staff". But the public is always dubious when they are told about all the important work that goes on behind the scenes, whether it's the police, hospitals, banks or libraries. And can you blame them?
I was arguing passionately against the dehumanisation of libraries seven or eight years ago. Few people in my own library bothered to support me. I can't get very worked up about it now. What will be, will be.