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Andy Havens

For the price I paid for my public library card -- nothin' -- I'm pretty pleased with the service. I can get online, see if there's a book or other type of material in the system, request it to be brought to the nearest branch, and then be advised as to when it's available there. That's pretty close to the level of information and automation that's available to Netflix customers, and I've been doing it (through less sexy interfaces) since around 1996.

I can also call up the library and talk to a live person who can help track down a resource based on scantily recalled data. I can't count the number of times I've pestered a poor librarian with some version of, "It's that book with the picture of the guy on the cover who's holding a torch over a lion... he wrote that other book last year that got all the attention because of the UN scandal. Something about Pakistan..." And they usually are able to help me.

Maybe my experiences are atypical, but I think libraries may have more of a problem with marketing than service. Netflix does have terrific service... but they have even better marketing.

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