The future of libraries fascinates me, which is why, I suppose, I indulged for this episode of Digital Beards and talked all by my lonesome. The pressure of technological advance has produced many interesting effects in a variety of fields; but the very identity of libraries is rooted, pretty firmly, in the image of physical copies of books and movies and CDs, organized on shelves around aisles for people to walk down, an increasingly archaic means of searching among and consuming media. As things become digitized, what must libraries do to stay relevant? I found a couple interesting documents on the subject, Confronting the Future by the the American Library Association’s Office of Technology Policy, and Facing The Future, a document with similar intent published for the libraries of British Columbia. These publications, along with the myriad of FabLab-style creativity spaces popping up around the country (and the world) in libraries, who are displacing their books to do so, represent, for me, a shift in library policy that will culminate in the libraries of tomorrow: serving patrons who create instead of curate, with equipment and software and space necessary for anyone to be a creator.
Oh, and check out the rest of that Libraries Mashup I sample in the beginning of the podcast here: