There’s been talk about libraries and librarians becoming an endangered species and eventually dying out. Personally, I think that’s a lot of rubbish. Nothing could be further from the truth. Although, you could say that libraries and librarians are shedding their skins, evolving with changes that are taking place.
The DaVinci Institute does a good job of discussing this and projecting a future snapshot of libraries. Thomas Frey, Senior Futurist of the DaVinci Institute, rejects the predictions that technologies will make libraries defunct, and says this:
Ever since the people of ancient Nineveh began storing and classifying their books nearly 3,000 years ago, libraries have been hallowed and largely unchanging bastions of learning. But in the information age, libraries have been caste with a new identity, and the future is evolving into a very different place.Ten years ago, as the Internet began to take off, many in the tech elite were predicting the death of the public library. What the critics failed to predict, however, was libraries’ stirring ability to reinvent themselves. Much like plants that flourish with good soil, water and sunshine, libraries have actually begun to thrive in our information-rich environment.
Traditional lending has been replaced with downloadable books, which are never out of stock, formatted for electronic tablets and readers. A bigger change, though, has come with the very concept of what a book is. Where once a customer would passively read and, hopefully, absorb a book, every volume now is more akin to an online forum, with authors, experts and other readers available to discuss and answer questions on almost every important book ever written.
With the Internet having put increasingly powerful business tools into the hands of individuals, more people are working and operating businesses from home. To such people, the library offers not just a refuge from the isolation of their house, it also provides temporary office space complete with podcast recording studios, conference rooms and editing stations.
With technology having improved so dramatically, a central feature of this library is the Search Command Center, where a team of experts, both real and virtual, assists with complex searches that now incorporate not just words, but sounds, textures and even smells.
4 thoughts on “Library Odyssey : 2029 future projection”
This is our future as Teacher-Librarians Tania. I feel that the library I run is on the right track. We have recognised the changing nature of libraries and are responding by creating zones where our students can hang out and learn the way they like to. I don’t have an issue with food being eaten in the library (although I think the cleaner does!) and this has meant the students feel more welcome in their break times when they need to eat. We are hopeful of a refit in the next two years and I hope to see some of our thinking evident in the spaces created when that happens. I think the future is very exciting for libraries, provided we see acceptance of change and not resistance.
Great post once again. You are a posting demon! I’d love to be posting as often as you but time has eluded me of late. Can’t wait for the break to be able to explore my interests.
Do you think that you can allow food in the library because you are in a girls’ school? We have boys! (OK, I’m going to get it for that). I think you’re brave, but the idea of making the library a hangout is great, and I’m sure you’re on the right track. I agree with you that reformed library spaces have exciting potential. Would love to know your own ideas for your refit – when will that happen?
LOL. posting demon! I’m procrastinating! Also, no reports. Just about to start a wiki to support the English classes I’m involved in. Anyway, you’re always on the road (in the air)!
I think that I don’t like the word “reinvent”. I believe that the good librarians/teacherlibrarians have always been about knowledge management. It has been tablets, scrolls, then the book and now there are new formats. The idea of making information and ideas accessible, linking people to these ideas and information, giving them access to stories, making sense of the plethora of things that are available today and helping them to critically evaluate or appraise when ncessary.
There is also the problem of what is important to keep for future reference and what is ephemera, how best to store it and how to make sure that there is access to this.
Many libraries of the past were very impersonal places but that has changed a lot (have a look at some of the old videos) and it will continue to change. A lot of teacher librarians would have changed their libraries even more but it is the expectations/limitation of others (teachers, principals, boards and parents) that have held them back..
Perhaps a better term than “reinventing” is, for librarians and teacher librarians, is “adapting” to – new requirements, new media, a wider range of learning requirements/interests.
If they don’t adapt then, yes, the profession will fade away, but most are capable and ready to do so.
‘Adapting to’ is good. I agree with all your points, Rhonda, as you already know, since we’ve had this conversation in person. What I mean by ‘reinvent’ implies the inclusion of what’s new, and that’s because I expect the library is embracing and will continue to embrace new literacies as they come into being, and open up to new roles. Of course, libraries have always been about information management, but I think, just as the world is coming into libraries through the read/write web and through learning networks, and so libraries and staff are having to evolve to embrace this.