As I have mentioned before, I frequent my local library so often that the staff anticipates my needs (or they are stalking me) so I am a big fan of the institutions already.
What caught my attention was the informal survey the Columbus library did asking people on Facebook “to share five words describing their childhood libraries and five words describing how they imagine libraries two decades from now.”
The word clouds that resulted from this survey appear in both articles. While books, reading, information, research and learning figure heavily in the childhood word cloud, community, technology, information, entertainment, access and meeting emerge for the libraries of the future. While some of the childhood words lose their prominence in the vision of 20 years hence, their weight is still on par with strongest future concepts.
The Facebook survey CML used seems like an interesting exercise to engage in for trying to discern how your community sees their relationship with your organization changing. Paper or in person surveying might be required if you don’t have the 36,000 Facebook likes and 800,000 card carrying members that CML has.
People: The library must “shift away from building collections to building human capital.” This not only refers to the users of the public library but also its librarians, who will act as curators of the library’s content.
Place: The public library of the future is both a physical and virtual place. While the latter gets emphasized—perhaps overly so—in discussions about the future, the physical structure of the public library will remain vital to its community. But its purpose will change: “The physical library will become less about citizens checking out books and more about citizens engaging in the business of making their personal and civic identities.”
Platform: America’s public libraries should become community learning platforms. They should serve as a jumping-off point for users to create, learn, and innovate…
If this language about staff acting as curators; the role of space and how it is used; and providing a jumping-off point for creativity, innovation and learning sounds familiar, it is probably because the same concepts have been bubbling around conversations in relation to the arts.
So it may bear paying attention to what libraries are doing these days and consider whether it is worth partnering closely with them to reach common goals.