MIT invited its university members to “hack its libraries” as part of its Preliminary Future of the Library Report prepared by a faculty/student/staff Ad-Hoc Task Force. After a year of work, the Task Force’s recommendations envision a “global library for a global community.”
Posts Tagged ‘future of libraries’
A recent Business Insider article touts the changes coming to public libraries, detailing the shifts our field will see over the next fifty years. According to writer Chris Weller’s research, libraries five decades from now will transform into “all-in-one spaces for learning, consuming, sharing, creating, and experiencing,” even offering alternate realities for loan. Their emphasis will be on connectivity, not just physically providing technology to patrons, but also in linking them with sensory experiences. They will connect experience with the ever-present technological movements of social media, streaming content, and data.
“Why do we need libraries when there’s the Internet?” For those that work in the library industry, it’s an unfortunately familiar question. Despite the many ways in which libraries have evolved to embrace community, innovation, and technology, many outdated perceptions still remain. In 2014, a group of Colorado library marketers and directors decided it was time to tackle this issue head-on. The result of this collaboration is Outside the Lines, a grassroots initiative that is helping to shift perceptions of libraries everywhere.
A Washington Post editorial champions the idea of small libraries, suggesting they are key to the industry’s future success. Writer Steve Barker states, “With print collections and budgets down, more libraries may be the answer—but smaller ones.” I work at a public library that serves a population of 4,078. It is one of the smallest of our system’s seventy-seven members (the smallest serves only 3,382). My staff knows most of our regular patrons by name, and many out-of-town visitors tell us they like our library because of its cozy environment. We are part of a cooperative in which each library is independent but can take advantage of select shared services like ILL and digital collections. In a world of large multibranched regional libraries, however, I have typically viewed our size—and corresponding tiny budget—as somewhat of a detriment. Barker’s argument is quite compelling and made me pause to re-evaluate.
Libraries have long been a important social institutions. One only need reflect on the famed Library of Alexandria, for instance, to understand its important place. The library has indeed had to shift its duties and focus to remain relevant in each successive era and each respective culture. This has never been truer than in the twenty-first century, especially in the United States. The changing role and nature of the American library is the topic of a recent gathering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Adapt to survive. This simple mantra may be a bit clichéd, but it is thus for a reason: it is a truth, especially in a business. Libraries may be community services, but they are also businesses, or else they couldn’t keep their doors open to serve their communities. They must adapt to survive. This may mean that the library of 2100 will look nothing like the library of today, though today’s library looks very little like the library I visited when I was a child. That library was a central hub in my hometown, serving everyone. There were no computers and no library networks – there were barely interlibrary loans, and I was too young to know what those were.
Did you know that Americans really do love their libraries? Research shows the reason for this lovefest fits into three broad categories: information access, public space, and our transformative potential, according to research by Wayne Wiegand in his book, “Part of Our Lives: A People’s History of the American Public Library. So, why are we so worried about the future of our libraries? People love us, right? Yes, they do, but that love is not always measured by their willingness to allocate funding to our budgets. Which begs the question, “How do we transform this unquestionable love for public libraries into increased funding?” Enter the librarian.
For quite some time, public libraries across the country have dealt with having to answer the same overused question: What does the future of public libraries look like in a technology savvy 21st century? Well, to be honest, the future looks bright. Libraries are not only educational institutions that offer a plethora of books, programs, magazines, and databases at no cost; they are a commons, a safe haven “and they are dynamic, versatile community centers” where patrons feel comfortable experiencing everything libraries offer. Technology in libraries is at the cusp of a technological revolution available to the public that is sweeping across the world. So what can public libraries do with such advanced technology? One library decided it would inventory and map out every single grave at a local historic cemetery situated in downtown Pharr, Texas. Pharr is a border town that sits only eight miles north of the Rio Grande.
What do book subscription services have to do with libraries? Well, in a Forbes article, Tim Worstall suggests we “close all of the libraries and buy everyone a Kindle Unlimited subscription.” Using his home country of the United Kingdom, the author argues such an action would benefit the public in the long run. Are subscription services library killers? Here are some simple reasons why not.
The Public Library Association (PLA) held its annual Results Boot Camp program this year on August 24th – 28th at the Nashville Public Library. Facilitated by Sandra Nelson and June Garcia, this year’s event focused on strategic planning and service delivery. In its tenth year, Boot Camp is described by PLA as “intensive library management training,” although the specific focus varies each year. Participants attend four full days and one half-day session, which feature a mix of lecture-style instruction and small group work. Time is also allotted for individual reflection about how the content fits in with your particular library’s situation.
Robots have arrived at the library. The newest staff member at Longmont Public Library in Colorado is a robot prototype named Bibli. It can tell a story, answer patron’s questions, and show patrons where materials are located within a limited amount of space. Bibli was built for this library to engage with library patrons–especially those diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)—and explore partnering with industry.
The St. Joseph County Public Library (SJCPL) in South Bend, Indiana, recently said farewell to their highly regarded director of thirtyseven years, Donald Napoli, who retired on June 30th. Napoli was only the fifth director in the library’s 126 year history and during his tenure saw many changes. The biggest trend when he started in 1977 was the move to “give them what they want,” which emphasized popular materials over wellrounded collections. This patrondriven idea was pioneered by Dr. Ernest R. DeProspo at Rutgers University and wholeheartedly embraced by Napoli, who believed that public libraries should reflect the communities they serve.
The August 1 deadline is quickly approaching for consideration in next year’s group of ALA Emerging Leaders. According to ALA’s website, this program “enables newer library workers from across the country to participate in problem-solving work groups, network with peers, gain an inside look into ALA structure, and [provides an] opportunity to serve the profession in a leadership capacity.”
The Future Library isn’t a library yet, but when it opens in 2114 it will contain written works from great authors of today – and many authors not even born yet.
Since 2005, future Minnesota library leaders have come together to learn more about leadership styles, library trends and professional network building.