I attended a webcast on March 12 on the “Future of Libraries.” Speakers were from a variety of settings: public library, academic library, public library consortium, and an independent library web developer. When we talk about the future of libraries, lots of things might be mentioned. But here are some points I made note of:
- Libraries are not now, and certainly not in the future, just about books. When (non-library) people think about libraries, they think “books.” When they talk to us, they will mention books. We need to reframe the conversation. We are not just books. Libraries are content. Content includes books, but also other formats, and access (to information, to knowledge), and places for people to come together. We are more about people (both the people who work in libraries, and the people who use libraries), than about books.
- Libraries need to contain technology. But that doesn’t always mean we have to be on the bleeding edge of every new technology that comes along. We just need to be just a little bit ahead of the community we serve.
- Those of us trying to promote libraries spend way too much time talking about the “what” of libraries (books, programs, services, “stuff”) and not enough talking about the “why” (access to resources and knowledge, democratic access, helping people improve their lives, etc.)
These are all points I agree with, and already know—BUT I need to remind myself!
A recording of the webcast is available at American Libraries Live.
I remember hearing that in the tense days following the Ferguson Grand Jury verdict, that they made special mention of Libraries being “peaceful places” and that everyone was welcome. I think its important that we underline that libraries are places for people to come together.
Absolutely, and thanks for mentioning this! The Ferguson Public Library in particular, stayed open extra hours during the protests, to provide a safe refuge, and a place to talk. Libraries should be their community’s “living room.”