What could libraries look like in 30 years?

I’m slightly drunk and blogging. Dangerous, I know. We had our last lecture for The Digital Information Environment tonight, and then we went to the pub.

The lecture was on digital disruption, and how technology will change our worklives in the future. There’s been a rather enjoyable dynamic in these subject, where the lecturer is excited about the possibilities of new technology, and I played the curmudgeonly sceptic.

It’s a fun role, and a useful one, but it misrepresents my position. I am excited by technology; I plan to build my career around Making Things Better With IT.

On train home, I was reading Twitter, and saw this tweet:

It felt like synchronicity. What would I love the world to be like in 30 years? What would I like libraries to be like? I replied:

You know. Basic lefty idealist stuff.

And then, because I was drunk, I started playing a game: What could libraries look like in 30 years?

Libraries could look like Facebook:

  • a place to share and comment
  • you go there because your friends are there

Libraries could look like forests:

  • green and renewable
  • a place of rest and contemplation
  • always growing, always changing

Libraries could look like hospitals:

  • general services and specialist services
  • 24 hour emergency assistance
  • you come out better than when you went in

Libraries could look like churches:

  • the heart of the community
  • a place to feed our need to be part of something bigger than ourselves
  • the first libraries were temples

That’s as far as I got. I was drunk, and the train ride is short. But Brie Code had replied to me. She said:

In class, we had been discussing the digital readiness gap – the gap between those who are confident and skilled at using IT, and those who aren’t. We’d talked very broadly about whether libraries might have a role in closing that gap (my hero Jessamyn West has a few things to say about that).

That discussion combined with Brie’s tweet to give me an idea: PLAYTIME FOR GROWN-UPS. A one hour session once a month at the local library where adults can come and just play with gadgets, to overcome their fear and their reluctance and get comfortable with the tech.

This is something you could run for staff as professional development, as a way of staying on top of technological change.

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About davidwitteveen

IT person. Zine Maker. Level 0 Library Nerd. Doctor Who fan.
This entry was posted in ideas worth stealing, library nerding and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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