Libraries – The Big Picture: Part 3 of 3

The Future of Libraries

Various studies by the American Library Association and the DaVinci Institute For the Future identified five trends that they think will influence libraries in the future

Libraries will be greatly affected by changes in society, such as changing demographics – serving a population that is aging, and increasing in ethnic diversity. Other key trends include globalization, urbanization, and increased financial constraints as libraries feel the impact of reduced funding from municipalities, higher levels of governments, and all other revenue sources.

Here are three key library trends:

1. Libraries will be moving from the Physical to the Virtual

Most libraries are already seeing a tremendous growth in the use of electronic resources. Technology makes it possible for libraries everywhere to participate in virtual reference via online chat or instant messaging. In St Thomas, two new online databases for children experienced amazing increases in usage in 2012.  Both PebbleGo, which encourages young readers to explore and learn independently, and  Tumblebooks, an online collection of animated, talking picture books which teach young children the joys of reading, saw  increases from 4000 to 5000%!

2. Libraries will be changing their focus from serving the Individual to serving the Community

Most libraries are moving from a focus on the individual – satisfying clients one by one, providing comfy chairs, internet stations for one, private listening stations, and finding a book for every reader – toward a community focus. The Revitalized Library now has study rooms for tutor and student, a computer lab for up to ten people for small business entrepreneurs, and work tables for small groups.

3. Libraries services will be changing from Collection to Creation

As libraries renovate and modernize their facilities, collections are often reduced, and more space is devoted to collaborative study and group work, but also for “creation” spaces. In St. Thomas we’ve used technology to assist fledgling authors to produce a born-digital novel, or to print on demand, or to help authors and artists sell their works to a wider audience, perhaps even to a global market.

Librarians are used to adjusting to an ever changing world, and we all look forward to what the future will bring.

– RD

Read the first article in this series: The Business of Libraries

Read the second article in this series: Why Libraries Matter

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