Imagine a Very Different Public Library

Posted by & filed under CGR Staff.

If you live in Monroe County NY, and especially if you reside in Rochester, you have an immediate opportunity to weigh in on what you want your public library to be. Take a brief survey, developed by CGR, about how to shape Rochester Public Library’s future: .

Kirstin PryorJust what do we want from a bricks and mortar public library in our digital age? Just over half of Americans, age 16 and up, visited one in the past year, according to the most recent Pew Internet & American Life national survey, and 91% of visitors called libraries an important part of their community.

Further, they said they value, in order of importance, books to borrow, reference librarians and free public access to computers and the Internet. Clearly, most of the traditional aspects of libraries—that quiet hush, the many stacks, the quintessential librarian, and (for some decades now) the rows of computers, matter to a great many of us.

The question communities everywhere are grappling with is how to balance the traditional library with digital world realities. What used to require a reference librarian is now often a quick Google or Wikipedia search. Many of our book recommendations come from booksellers’ “customers who bought, also liked” features or Facebook posts. And countless books, articles and newspapers that used to be print only are now downloadable to e-readers and smartphones. Read more »

Are We All Predictably Irrational? Or Just the “Behavioral Economists”?

Posted by & filed under CGR Staff, Rochester Business Journal.

Kent GardnerThe following is based on a book review I delivered on behalf of the Rochester Public Library’s “Books Sandwiched In” series.

Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational comes from a field called “behavioral economics,” a branch of cognitive psychology focused on economic decision-making. Folks in the field attempt to figure out why apparently rational people behave irrationally so much of the time.

That markets are influenced by irrational behavior is easily demonstrated. Let’s consider recent trends in oil prices. When oil was trading at over $140 per barrel, relatively few oil industry experts would defend the price on the basis of pure supply and demand. Sure, some would cite rising demand in China or the number of cars added to the road every day in Mumbai. Many authoritative voices had been saying for months that they while they could rationally explain a spot price around $100 per barrel, the arithmetic simply didn’t justify $140 per barrel. So why were apparently smart people betting big dollars on a higher price? How did the price get to $147 per barrel? Largely because they believed that other people believed that prices were going to rise. And they believed that they were smart enough to buy when prices were rising and to sell before the bubble burst.

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