Thursday, August 20, 2015

Libraries of the Future (maybe)

The Aspen Institute recently hosted the Leadership Roundtable on Library Innovation. Consisting of leaders in the library profession and thought leaders in government, philanthropy, academia, and business, the roundtable discussed the future of the public library.
time lapse image of building and bridge over water at night with light blur
Image courtesy of Unsplash

The ideas discussed are not necessarily new, but rather expanding or tweaking previous concepts. The idea of connectivity has been and still is an important priority in public libraries. The roundtable took the idea of connectivity to the next level: super connectivity, adding 10 GB connectivity to the internet. Increasing connectivity in libraries allows the library to play a bigger role in being a digital community hub, helping business creation and the ability to create and share digital content. While 3D printers are being added in more and more libraries, super connectivity would allow for 3D imaging and allow for public libraries to host digital meeting rooms for the community to use.

Another suggestion is libraries working together. This idea of creating an infrastructure and platform consisting of many libraries uniting is not new, but the focus of collaborating more is being supported by the Institute of Museums and Library Services (IMLS) and in other national platforms like the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA).

The full report of the Leadership Roundtable on Library Innovation will be released in about one to two months and will be shared in a future post. There was an assumption from one of the participants during the gathering, "There are about 9,500 public libraries in the U.S., most of them serving small and medium-sized communities. Probably 8,500 of them are not interested in innovation..." It's important to continue to try and show that public libraries are interested in innovation and in connecting with their communities through the use of many different types of tools and resources.

What do you think the public library of the future will be? What innovations can library staff contribute to to help shape this future?

Written by:
Ryan Claringbole, Public Library Development Team