The Library of Today

Reem Abeidoh I dropped off three copies of Trust Agents to my local library today, and realized a few changes since I’d last gone in (a few months or so). They’d added free wifi. They’d taken most of the new release fiction and nonfiction and stuffed it in an off-center room to make room for their ever expanding collection of feature length DVDs.

That’s right: my library has become Blockbuster.

But no, not really, and let’s not malign this, because my library is adapting to what its patrons are demanding, and they evidently want newly released movies about the mafia and aliens and anything starring Nicholas Cage or Jim Carrey. And this gets us thinking about what a library’s mission REALLY is today.

My library has a half dozen computers with Internet access, plus free wifi. So they’ve given us pipes to the largest reference system in the world. They have media in paper and DVD and audio CD form, as well as links into all kinds of electronic document repositories (such as eBooks and the like).

In conversations over a year ago with some library futurethinkers, we discussed the possibility of libraries outside of the walls of the library. Why not use geotagging to drop rich data in the air beside monuments, to denote historic battles, to lay out political stories? Why not have geotagging tied to online video libraries that show me the ecological history of a place? Why not have bird guides that fly onto my iPhone when I’m standing in the nature reserve, versus that pesky distraction of visiting a building downtown that has become a video rental depot?

What do libraries really stand for today? Who do they serve? How should they evolve? What are your thoughts?

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  • http://twitter.com/libraryman Michael Porter

    What I want to see, and having been trying to learn about, uncover and nurture, are relationships between libraries and savvy organizations…particularly those that are primarily online orgs that deal with electronic content, marketing and community.

    If anybody reading this falls into that category , or has insights they want to share about any of this discussions here related to libraries, I would absolutely love to talk with you!

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  • http://www.tradevoices.com Marjorie F

    That's true only if they do more than pick up the latest release. Let's hope you are right. There is nothing more life-changing than to come upon a great book you didn't even know you needed to read. I hope we are not making it less possible for future generations to have that experience. The world gets very small very quickly when you always do what you've always done.

  • Lisa Blue

    Hi Lisa, I'm a librarian at Winter Park Public Library. Thank you so much for your kind comments. Did you know that we have an e-library of over 40,000 e-books,including real estate materials, and are adding more all the time? Next time you're in the library, stop by the reference desk, and we'll set you up with a free netlibrary account.

  • lisa league

    Most tiny towns have an even smaller tax base, so without additional fund raising activities, it may be hard to decently support even a small sized library.

    Perhaps you could found a group that uses your social marketing skills to drive a fund raiser, or help them develop some alternative revenue streams.

  • Mr_Donut

    I'm a big fan of the library. Vancouver Public Library has a great online system. I search for my book, request it, then get an email notification that it's ready for pick up. I use the library now more than ever before.

    Plus, there are some movies that are difficult to find a certain movie rental places. (not mine, Happy Bats Cinema has EVERYTHING).

    A good example was recently looking for the movie Barbarians at the Gate. I think it was one of HBO's first original movies and it's a classic. It stars James Garner as F Ross Johnson, CEO of RJR Nabisco who kicks off a battle for the company that would become (at the time) the largest LBO in history.

    True Story: I went to Happy Bats to rent the movie, but it was out. I went to a couple other places and they didn't carry it. I went home, searched it at the library and bob's your uncle; problem solved.

    Thanks

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  • marryroy01

    Libraries are constantly evolving and new services are being created. As many government offices are closing, most government services are migrating online – this is called “e-gov”. This has created an unfunded mandate for libraries to provide computers and help for people to file unemployment claims, social security, food stamps, Medicare, etc.I want to know more such suggestions.

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  • http://www.memorybits.co.uk/ flash drive

    I hardly ever books I want our libraries. Current books often have a waiting list several months. Old books for interlibrary loan woks well for the books I usually can get 2 to 3 weeks. A drive is a branch trough. It's fabulous. This is a quick and efficient, for disabled lifesaver. Now if only the cost of shipping NetFlicks library can be like. Set your reading list online. Makes his book. You read it and send it back and makes his next book.

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