Have coffee? Tea? Water? This is a long one!
How will libraries evolve? What does the future hold for these community establishments? Will their automation and technology budgets grow with Web 2.0 and other digital changes? Will decision-makers understand the importance of libraries in a digital world?
This week's Web 2.0 assignment provided five articles that discussed the future of libraries and librarians: library 2.0 and librarian 2.0. All five articles were published five years ago. That is a long time in a constantly changing field. I surfed the source site (http://www.oclc.org/nextspace/) for more recent articles. I learned several things from both sets of readings. First, WorldCat.org offers several "advanced citation functions" (http://www.oclc.org/nextspace/016/tipsandtricks.htm). Second, OCLC's NextSpace publication appears to be a wonderful resource for library students and librarians. I subscribed to the publication. These items are not part of the assignment, so there I must go.
Regardless of age, the assigned articles are timely. Libraries as community places, information cafes, and knowledge sharing spaces are libraries of the future. Librarians need to adapt and adjust routines and tasks to maintain currency in their communities and organizations; a timeless common thread in the provided articles.
Library 2.0 is a necessary step in library evolution. I see two things that will inhibit a library's metamorphosis to Library 2.0: priorities and budget constraints. What is the library's role in an organization? Do academic libraries play a greater role in their organization than a public library? My opinion: No. Both are equally important but academia appears to prioritize libraries as necessary and valued departments. County governments maintain public libraries in my region. Based on resources available in the public libraries I feel they are not as valued.
I use four libraries for homework, two college libraries and two public libraries. The college libraries provide innumerable access points for patrons: public workstations for Windows and Mac users, large tables in quiet areas, and group study rooms with several outlets for laptop power cords. Their print reference collections are not out dated and include several topics.
The two county libraries offer limited hours, minimal print reference materials, and a small amount of personal work space. One library has only one outlet for laptop users. The other limits computer access to ninety minutes per day. In addition, their computers and software are so outdated that library students cannot use these workstations to access the library school's online course tools. The public libraries are not as valued as other departments that have access to current technologies. Does the County Executive's office staff have current technology for their tasks?
Until public libraries are considered valuable by their governing bodies they are crippled, unable to grow and embrace the tools and concepts of Web 2.0 and Library 2.0.
Bookless libraries? In private institutions where technology resources are available to patrons, yes. In government libraries that are funded by taxes, no. .