As the libraries seek to find ways to adapt to the new, modern technologies, there are many different options that they have to choose from. A large portion of the changes that many are making is to take their existing building and just rearrange the layout to address the shifting priorities of the library’s services. There are other thoughts that are larger in focus and aim to redefine how a library operates within each community, and then redesign their systems around that new place.
Even though the use of encyclopedias and journals and physical research books has declined during the modern technological age, many areas are finding that the use of the libraries is actually increased compared to ten years ago. Research suggests that the books are not the reason people go to the library. It is more basic that that. The access to information is the key, not necessarily the type of format of information.
Benjamin Gillies, a columnist for TroyMedia.com, describes the fundamental library importance generated from research conducted by Lumos Research in 2012. They find the use of libraries has increased due to the desire of people to be part of the social interaction that occurs in public gathering places like a public library.
This would indicate that instead of primarily putting away books and helping to find them, as librarians used to do, the librarians of tomorrow would be more information specialists that would assist the public in retrieving information from any and all sources available.
The town of Wodonga, Australia, can also serve as a possible design for library systems. Their newspaper, The Border Mail, described in an article on March 25, 2013, that they have approved plans to grow their city library into a series of ten outlets or “hubs.”
These locations would be small portions of existing businesses that are mainly there to provide access to wireless internet, a place to sit and talk about information, and have a way of obtaining assistance from a librarian, either in person or online. These could be placed at the city pool, by existing cafes, or public spaces that create a need for access to wireless internet.
Another source of possible future ideas for public libraries can be found in an article by the Knight Foundation, which aims to inform and engage communities. During a recent conference, they gathered the library directors from 8 large municipalities and the director of the Google Books Library Project. They discussed the state of libraries in their cities, as well as citing successes that have worked for them in their library.
The Free Library of Philadelphia got more involved in the community by creating hot spots in areas where there was limited internet access. The Miami-Dade Library was finding success in recreating the libraries to be centers of civic engagement. The Middle George Regional Library finds most popular programs that train the community. This can be in things relating to resumes and job search skills, but also in terms of technology and how to use modern technology, and how to make it work for the public.
Another possible idea that has already become reality is a totally digital library with no actual books. These ideas all provide a glimpse of ideas that may be in most libraries of the future.