Magazine article American Libraries

Welcome to the Future-At Your Library: Innovation, Libraries, and the Future

Magazine article American Libraries

Welcome to the Future-At Your Library: Innovation, Libraries, and the Future

Article excerpt

Last spring, a group of librarians and non-librarians gathered at the Library of Congress for a Summit on the Future of Libraries. The summit helped launch the new Center for the Future of Libraries and focused on some of the trends that may shape the world in which libraries will operate. But it also focused on how libraries can shape the future or, better still, offer it to our communities.

In other words, libraries need to be the community hub where people can come to see the new and exciting--to see the future. And by communities, I mean all the communities we serve as libraries: municipalities and counties, colleges and universities, elementary and secondary schools.

Libraries were once the place where community members gathered to experience the exotic, new, and exciting. A hundred years ago, the library was the place where people came to hear the first magic-lantern-show lectures or to look at 3D stereopticon slides of exotic destinations such as India and Egypt.

Today, e-content, 3D printers, video editing stations, and the newest devices and apps have replaced the magic lantern, but the dynamic remains the same. At the Cuyahoga County (Ohio) Public Library system, for example, library users who have never been near an art gallery can play with the Cleveland Museum of Art's innovative, interactive Gallery One, which features the museum's permanent collection on a 40-foot interactive multi-touchscreen wall.

We need to once again be the place where people come to see the new and exciting. We need to be the place where the newest ideas and technologies are showcased--in short, where people can experience the future. We need to attract those people in our community who are interested in innovation and the future. We need to reach out to and partner with organizations and groups committed to exploring and innovating. …

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