Libraries & 2019?

Via Trends in the Living Networks: Will libraries disappear in 2019?

"Slate magazine has published a very nice slideshow titled "Borrowed Time" about the past and future of libraries. On the final slide it refers to the Extinction Timeline created by What's Next and Future Exploration Network, where we had put 2019 for the extinction of libraries."

My take on Slate's 9 image slide show is that it focuses far too much on form and function (aka buildings and design) and NOT at all on interaction and impact. But fortunately the lack of engaging images --I wanna see people, programs and the community in library photos, not buildings and interiors -- doesn't stop the author from concluding on the final slide that libraries still hold a tremendous amount of value in the way of community and "human contact."

View the slide show here: Borrowed Time
Note: The forward buttons are found at the bottom of the screen and only appear after the 20 sec ad.

What are your thoughts?


Jamie said...

It's interesting that all the libraries mentioned are in large cities. I've realized that when I think about the library of 2019 and beyond, I also tend to think in terms of large urban areas. But most libraries aren't in big cities; I need to give some thought to the future of libraries in small communities, because I suspect their path will be very different.

waltc said...

I looked at that timeline a little bit. It is, to put it kindly, a crock. I don't agree that Privacy went extinct in the early 1990s, just as one instance.

Of course, it even says--in teeny-tiny type--"Not to be taken too seriously." After looking at it briefly, I decided it wasn't even worth fisking.

Cycho Librarian said...

I agree that the timeline is a load of hooey. I'm a little disappointed that Slate even brought attention to it. He very clearly has an agenda with some of the things he put on there. But I'm also disappointed that he takes the Slate quote out of context to sell his timeline. Slate doesn't say that libraries will be extinct, only libraries as civic monuments.

That brings up something I've been thinking for a while now. We keep hearing about the "Library of the Future." Everyone said Seattle was the "Library of the Future." Frankly, I haven't seen the library of the future yet. All I've seen is moving the furniture around a bit. I don't know what the library of the future will really look like, but I know we haven't seen it yet.

Jennifer said...

I agree. We have not seen the library of the future....only glimpses of what it can be. It is important to keep imagining what the library of the future can be and to shift the thinking away from seeing the library as only a physical place. The library isn't books, computers and walls. It is people making connections with other people. It is all about human contact. While a stained glass window might improve the view, library users are more interested in someone who cares about delivering just what they want right where they need it. That can happen inside and outside the walls, including in the virtual environment. Development of the library of the future is happening every day as we open up to new ways of thinking, new ways of doing and new ways of interacting with an ever changing population of library users.

sowens said...

I think the library of the future will not be known as a “library”. It will be something else. It will be a place where people come to produce music, theatre, dance, film, books; investigate (seek knowledge), discuss, meditate, read, learn ….it will be a people wiki. It will be a library without walls in the sense that it will be wifi and connectability requires a plug in of some sort from anywhere. It will be the hub of education for all schools; it has a virtual zoo and aquarium as well as a planetarium and in fact maybe the info center in it looks like a planetarium. It should be connected to green spaces and exercise/health facilities. It could be a wiki mall with no gargoyles or other facades that make one pause to consider entering. It will be central to all aspects of life and therefore should be in the center of the community – dead center. It will be a place that has its own vibe. When someone enters it, they immediately feel an excitement and are awe inspired. When they log on, they should feel like saying, “engage”!

And with all of this, it must remain physically flexible to morph into the next generation of go-to places. It must remain people oriented and friendly. It must be able to shift with the times but still maintain its purpose – the free pursuit of literacy, learning, information, knowledge and wisdom by and for all.