- What will the library of our future look like?
- Will the physical library itself become extinct?
- Will digitization bring about the end of almost 5,000 years of collecting, housing and preserving our physical properties within our respective communities, altogether?
While no one holds the answers to these questions, many speculate the number of physical libraries themselves will continue to shrink, as the library patrons of the past continue to transition into Internet users for gathering and retrieving data. In a survey conducted by NetLibrary, 93% of undergraduate students asserted their preference for finding information online versus going to the library. On the other hand, libraries have and continue to serve the lower class citizens within communities, providing them with access to computers and information they otherwise wouldn’t be privy to.
At my company, LAC Group, we offer consulting on this topic – helping libraries prepare for as much of the future as possible. Much of this is around collection; however, we also touch on design characteristics and amenities.
State libraries themselves have different focal points, just as the laws from state to state are surprisingly still intricately different. The library itself serves an important role in housing, interpreting and disseminating those differences to the citizens within. And, much like early developing civilizations throughout the world, libraries continue to tell the unique story of man’s plight and journey in a specific region.
And, while the debate over the future of our physical libraries rages on, perhaps the digital collections, their organization into highly effective databases, and the sharing and collaborations from state to state, federal and a worldwide basis hold some of the keys to their physical survival. After all, our need and desire to collect, house and preserve our treasures hasn’t decreased, but increased over time. That trend itself tells us the library, while its appearance will continue to evolve its importance to us, what it represents and houses for us remains at the very core of our civilization.
“We may sit in our library and yet be in all quarters of the earth.” – John Lubbock