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The Future of Libraries


Photo by Ellen Forsyth on Flickr

Thanks to the Google Apps for Education Summit and a presentation by Librarian Brian Farrell, my interest in the changing face of school libraries was reignited.  In his presentation, Brian talked about some changes that libraries are facing and pointed out the 3 elements of libraries that need to be looked at critically.

  1. The physical space
  2. What is kept in the space
  3. The person that manages the space

I am interested in  the changing role of the school library and teacher librarian in an age where information is at everybody’s fingertips.

In regards to the physical space of libraries, Brian was of the opinion that schools will always need communal spaces where people can come together to learn. I also came across some interesting ideas by a designer of school libraries in this article.  Two points that resonated with me were the author’s insistance on designing libraries with flexible instructional space, and the author’s strong opinion on the value of printed material in schools: ‘Printed books are still an essential tool, especially for beginning readers.’ 

On the other hand, in one of the blog posts I found online, The Unquiet Librarian argues that librarians can be mobile, and quotes Dr. David Lankes when he says, ‘Want to save money in a school? Close the library and hire more school librarians.’ I thought that was an interesting statement.

In regards to what is kept in the physical space, Lankes, in the same blog post quoted by The Unquiet Librarian insists that the most important collection a library can have is it’s community.

As for the physical and digital collection, during his presentation Brian mentioned there is still no e-book solution for school libraries.  I found this infographic that claims printed books and ebooks can coexist. Not sure what I think.

As far as the role of the teacher librarian, this is still a big question for me.  Here is an article about Sarah Ludwig and in contrast, the thoughtful response from The Unquiet Librarian. (Also referenced above.)

I would like to add one more element to the list of items libraries need to critically reexamine:

4. The purpose of the space

‘Libraries need to change from places just to get stuff to places to make stuff, do stuff, and share stuff.’ This quote is from the School Library Journal article that takes a critical look at the challenges libraries face in this new age.

The changing face of libraries fascinates me and the articles I spent the afternoon reading have only made me more curious and doubled the amount of questions I have.

What about you?  What do you think libraries should look like in the information age?