Envisioning Libraries of the Future
May 27, 2014
The debate over the future of libraries continues to rage. Will they even continue to exist? If they do, they will surely not continue on unchanged. This librarian wants to weigh in, and The Slate story, “What Will Become of the Library?” serves as a lovely backdrop for discussion.
First of all, yes, libraries will have to change. But libraries are poised to meet an increasingly large gap left by the digital divide (those who have internet access and those who don’t):
“Eventually, the Venn diagram of those who lack smartphones and those who lack homes may nearly overlap exactly. Libraries are well positioned to serve many of the needs of this demographic, the dispossessed of the digital age.”
Now, this is assuming that all things remain constant, and we know they definitely will not. There is no way to truly know how this will unravel. The decline of books is inevitable, but will proceed much more slowly than most folks predict. Most importantly, libraries will continue to exist if the community needs them to.
The article concludes:
“Libraries will only survive if the communities they serve want and need them to. It would be a tragedy of historic proportions if, for instance, the public library system that Carnegie endowed and inspired is dismantled in the coming decades, but it’s a real possibility. In the end, it’s up to us—scholars, makers, and artists, seekers of community, access, and safe haven, and above all, readers in the old, human sense of the word—to rise to the level of these monuments we’ve built.”
Well said. This librarian is optimistic.
Emily Rae Aldridge, May 27, 2014