I’m organizing an essay on the future of libraries and I’d love to get your input here. What do you think are the waves of the future for libraries?
These are just my thoughts based on readings and experience in no particular order (unless perhaps I start to see a trend – then I may start organizing).
Some people will always want to hold a real book in their hands – verses the electronic version. One of the comments I heard on an NPR interview was that the electronic versions are difficult for bathtub reading.
Even though the trend for information dissemination is digital, it takes time to get older pieces digitized. They are currently available in book form. Libraries are great houses for those books, but will they become museums for books? Will books as we know them be housed in such a way that they cannot leave the premises?
Also as more and more information is digitized, it seems that new education must occur to learn how to search and develop an understanding of the validity of the information found. From the Illinois Library System, while the demand for digitized information is up, so it the demand for print information. Rather surprising considering the touting of digitized products as the wave of the future.
ALA stats show that library use has doubled in the last decade. That makes me consider that libraries are places people want to be. Are people going for the books, the computer usage, the congregation with others? And in thinking about that congregation, what might it be for? Politics? book discussions? Civic opportunities? Classes?
Technologies are ever changing. What happens to information (or entertainment) on obsolete mechanisms? Could the library house those items and their viewers/players in special areas for public use?
I’ve already seen a change in the role of the librarian. He is an information specialist. How and where can the best information be found and received by the people who need it? As things are digitized more and more, will the librarian’s job change even more to be like that of an online moderator? If that happens, does it mean that the librarian will have to be more specialized or more generalized.
Could the library still have books and perhaps a digital center. I don’t think the computer banks we have at the present time count toward digital centers – at least in the libraries I’ve been in. They are limited by time allotments and there are just too few of them. How could the library loan out books for Kindle and Nook? I really want an answer for this because it seems like we’ll have to come up with a solution! Here’s one possibility.
Libraries will work together for InterLibrary Loaning. Along the same lines, cards should make state-wide public libraries accessible and not be limited to towns, cities or counties. If this happens, then libraries could become thematic like schools specialized by a single or similar topics.
Libraries will have an online component – not just a single page representation, but a deep, rich, full, searchable site that are accessed with library cards. Perhaps there will be online story times and book discussions that run parallel to the face-to-face ones that need to continue.
Libraries will provide the place needed for work and research. Areas will be available for conversation. They will be more comfortable. Food may well be provide as they do at Barnes & Nobel. As for the librarian, I think people will always need help in the where and the how and the why. The librarian as information specialist will continue to fill that role whether online or in person.