Envisioning the Future of Libraries


Last night on Wow2 was a high energy, amazing discussion about the future of libraries. I found myself longing for Joyce Valenza or Doug Johnson to be someone that my students could learn from.

Listen to the show to be inspired and learn a whole lot.

My takeaways from this are:

  1. Meet the Libratory
    Joyce used the term “libratory” and Doug reinforced it with talking about the library as a “production studio” resource for his students. A place where they can create, learn, explore, and do things. What an amazing thought!
  2. Space Transformation
    Both of them talked about transforming the space. Joyce said something like, “the library should be a place where students can snuggle up with a laptop, have an argument, work on a film, record a podcast…” Likewise, Doug talked about centralizing things and the importance of looking at having the tools available for students to be able to do all types of digital production. A digital production center.
  3. The Invisible Collection
    When talking about ebooks, Doug pointed out the model of united streaming (which I ADORE by the way — I think every library should budget for united streaming!) as a way for ebooks to work in libraries.

    The idea is that our students are going to have devices like ipods, ebook readers, laptops, etc. and we will want them to be able to “check out” books from our collection. I've been wondering how would that work? Piecemeal rates for checkouts? How do you “get them back?”

    But this point of subscription libraries is a great one… your library subscribes to collections of audio books, ebooks, etc. and you are able to download those onto student devices.

    While both Joyce and Doug seemed to think that the Kindle: Amazon's New Wireless Reading Device is too expensive but Doug raved about the Asus Eee 4G Surf 7″ Micro Laptop PC (800 MHz Intel Celeron Processor, 512 MB RAM, 4 GB Hard Drive, Linux Preloaded) Galaxy Black, a device that we are planning to test here a as a potential rolling “lab” for elementary classes who just need, type, click, and surf abilities.

  4. Differentiated Books

    Doug and Joyce both talked about the potential that ebooks have for a “differentiated” book. Imagine a history class where the book adjusts to the reading level or ability of the student… same class, same content, but different reading level.

    And what about integrated flash cards, reviews, videos, audio files and more in a compact, portable device. This really would take differentiation to a different level.

    I know that laptop people will say “we already have that in a laptop.” And yes, perhaps you do. But portability, NO boot time, ruggedness and a smaller footprint could make the ebook idea even more attractive to schools.

    And it comes back to a 10th grader who told me that, “I think schools are very hypocritical. They teach us about global warming and yet, they print textbooks that they replace every year or two!” I think he makes a good point… and what if that textbook could be updated throughout the year with new information or corrections?

  5. The Library as a Hub

    Thinking of the library as a hub or destination point and the librarian as an involved “teacher” teaching kids how to have a start up page… as Joyce does with Netvibes (I do too) or advising one on one or in small grups on production as Doug's school does.

    Somehow this is quite foreign from things I've seen and the possibility excites me! I think I even heard Doug mentioning having coffee in the library. The whole lounge, comfortable idea, learning environment, conversation environment is quite exciting and I think would make a school more attractive to prospective students. Meanwhile, I think this strikes fear in the hearts of many schools who don't have control of their students now and would see this as the end of any semblance of order.

  6. What if Lincoln Used Powerpoint
    My friend over at Rippling Pond captured this comment by Joyce very well. We talked about making a slideshare group to have our students challenge themselves to EFFECTIVELY demonstrate the best use of powerpoint to accompany such speeches as the Gettysburg Address or “I have a dream.” What would happen? Could we do it?

    It is a challenge I'm going to look into further when my classes get to PowerPoint.

I think good libraries will evolve as will good librarians. Libraries are to be USED and not sanitized places of perfection. Learning is messy as Brian Crosby says and although we want the library to have order, when it is being USED it will have a possible look of disarray.

I have a friend at a company who is in contention with the “5S guru” (5S is a method used for efficiency on shop floors) because guru says his desk should be “5S'ed” at all times.

OK, a 5S desk looks like this:

and I'm all for a clean desk… AT THE END OF THE DAY WHEN I AM LEAVING.

But when I am working! I am working!!!!!

Look at Einstein's desk.

It is a mess!

I'm not advocating messiness, however, “where there are no oxen, the trough is clean.” That means that if you've got activity, you often have a mess.

The answer to order for some librarians is the absence of students.

However, the absence of students indicates the absence of purpose in a school because that is what we are here for!

I highly recommend a listen to the Audio file and a look at the transcript from last night! Wow!

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6 thoughts on “Envisioning the Future of Libraries

  1. Thanks, Vicki. Wonderful summary. I think I caught some of this as the hour whizzed by! You are a great moderator. Keeping up with two talkers like Joyce and I is a challenge to be sure. You can give Terry Gross from Fresh Aire a run for her money!

    All the best and thanks again.

    Doug

  2. So much to think about, I will have to go back and listen to the audio again. I love the image of the library/libratory as a working hub where students go to interact and work with a librarian and each other on their projects. I would love to see one of these vibrant, dynamic libraries in action.

  3. Eventually, the Kindle and other eReaders will come down in price. I’m concerned that as eReaders and eBooks evolve and become more commonplace, people won’t come to libraries to borrow books.

    After reading your post I’m more optimist that libraries can overcome that challenge than when I blogged about this topic about a month ago – http://tinyurl.com/352bke

  4. Vicki..
    I am eager to listen to this broadcast on my 30 minute drive this morning. I think Doug and Joyce have captured the future of the library. Our local public library now has a collection of audio books that can be downloaded on line to your MP3 player, not your your Ipod. My understanding it not popular yet. 21st century media specialists have to reinvent the library…
    Bill

  5. United streaming is quite the resource, but it has a sneaky budget. If it is used often, you almost have to budget for the service and for the backbone improvements your district might have to make.

  6. This isn’t just about envisioning the future of libraries, it’s about envisioning the future of education! Currently I feel like most students view the library as an extension of their learning environments – most only go there to study or when they need resources assigned by the teacher. I love the idea of turning the library into a central media center where students can have easy access to a wide variety of multimedia resources along with the ability to create multimedia projects that other students can use as a resource as well. I look forward to seeing the library shift to the center of a student’s learning environment. LIBRARY 2.0!

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