A Future For Libraries?

I’m a library lover (sort of a librarian manqué in fact, even though my days employed in a library or using it for academic work are a ways back). I even cataloged my childhood books in 3rd grade (odd but true). In 2013, Pew which is sort of Upworthy for the egghead set, did a quiz on how engaged you are with your public library, and predictably I got good marks.

So the question of the shifts in the mission and services of libraries that comes from the digital revolution is naturally of interest. The quick assumption is that libraries are toast (like much else I care about, live music, newspapers, analogue photography, spelling analog with a “ue” at the end.) But, in fact, libraries, some of the oldest institutions on earth, have a reliable way of reinventing themselves. That they existed pre-Gutenberg gives the hope that they will be around post-web, even if their shape morphs radically and their services include more 3D printing than readers’ advisory.

I attended an interesting, if speculative, webinar on possible futures put out by the Library 2.0 people, and in addition to hearing an aside from school library guru Joyce Valenza that has stuck with me, “stop saying ‘social’ media, it’s just ‘media,’ particularly to anyone under 25,” I was impressed to learn that the American Library Association has a future of libraries project, with a handy guide to the broader trends that are shaping libraries, and for that matter much else.  Worth checking out, and notable for a minimum amount of jargon (particularly for librarians, who love their argot); pithy, to the point and intriguing.

ALA Future of Libraries: Trends
ALA’s Trend Watch

And as the saying goes, “the future is here, it’s just not evenly distributed.” I recently got to visit one example of the future of libraries, the Hunt Library at NC State.  That particular future: amazing.



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