Magazine article Texas Library Journal

What Does the Library of the Future Look like to You?

Magazine article Texas Library Journal

What Does the Library of the Future Look like to You?

Article excerpt

We have all been asked some version of: "Aren't libraries becoming obsolete?" To which we offer a standard answer about the explosion of information, the need to help people find what they need, the importance of providing access to diverse technologies, the increased demand given the complexity of information, etc. We probably also affirm our absolute certainty that libraries will continue to be important institutions into the future.

The astute among us will usually follow that question with another - one that is not so easy to answer: "So what does the library of the future look like?"

Do you have a concrete answer to which you would proudly sign your name and tout at the top of your lungs? If so, please, let me know. Whole library conferences and institutes have been built around this question - and we are still struggling to find a meaningful, consistent response that we, as a profession and community of stakeholders, can espouse and promote.

I'll come clean now: I don't have any revelations for you. I cannot offer you a pat answer. I can share some outcomes I believe the library of the future will continue to achieve and some results I think need to be produced. First and foremost, libraries will continue to be about:

* Access - to technology and connectivity, resources (regardless of formats), and skilled and personalized assistance;

* Co-location - a place (physical and virtual) where people congregate to learn, engage, and innovate;

* Community - a source for stakeholder identity, problem-solving, and economic, educational, and cultural activity;

* Public Interest - a commitment to equality of access, service and opportunity, as well as the shared and efficient use of resources; and

* Informational Integrity - the promotion of intellectual freedom, diverse viewpoints, the ethical use of information, individual rights to access information and digital technology, and secure, safe, and private information transactions.

Characteristics we need to develop/ strengthen may look familiar on some levels and some may seem counterintuitive given the list above. I believe strongly these characteristics can and must work together.

* Collaboration - promulgating a team approach among allied stakeholders as well as a nexus for customer/student/ client problem-solving, interaction, and innovation.

* Partnerships - formalizing roles with private and government entities to achieve shared goals and strengthen economic, cultural, and education environments for stakeholders. …

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