Musings on the Library of the Future

A single dream is more powerful than a thousand realities.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien

Well first, what is a library?

Claire Amos wrote a brilliant blog post about the advent of the modern library environment. And I wish to follow on from it with some thoughts of my own.

The scariest thing about becoming a librarian and then having to stock a library from the ground up is that the possibilities are endless.

What do you need exactly?

Are books necessary in a future focussed learning environment?

Should there even be a physical space?

Courtesy of Dennis V

What should it be used for?

The answer of course, to most of the questions above is you can do almost anything.

Yes, TERRIFYING! Yes, EXCITING! And this will be an innovative space for learning!

But it is hard to know where to start – how do you select the resources? How do you know what might/might not be good without reading/using them?

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of buying books, technology, software programmes, games etc – at least I get fairly excited at this prospect. Then the doubts start to creep up on you – How many resources do you need?

What’s a good mix of titles as a starting point?

How can you be responsive to the students and staff?

All of this has been churning through my mind in my first month at HPSS. I like to think I have a better handle on how to do this, but there is still plenty to learn!

I have been privileged enough to have Leigh Abraham, my colleague with 20+ years experience on the inner workings of the library to guide me. The “nuts and bolts” of running a library are a little lost on this library newbie.

Books, yes I like them. But how do they get covered? How do you process them?

Games, yes I also enjoy them. But what do kids like? 

The amount of money needed for these things? Ummmm…..?

Thankfully I have been offered networking and learning opportunities from those who are the best – the National Library (Lisa Alcott and Peter Murgatroyd), Claire Amos, Rose at Ormiston Senior College and the various twitter librarian friends I have acquired. Over the past four weeks, I have visited, listened, learnt and budgeted for our new library.

The Best Advice:

Buy WHAT THE KIDS WANT TO READ.

BUT how do you figure that out?

Courtesy of Ethan Lofton

Well the key is, you don’t buy a lot of books until you meet the students. No brainer huh?

Also you buy the books that the staff feel are valuable. This means that the precious money you are given to create a space of amazing learning is spent on the stuff that promotes learning best.

How is this library different from others that already exist?

What I want to state categorically is that it won’t be much different from the philosophical underpinnings of what a library should be.

A library has and will continue to be the ultimate inquiry and culmination experience of learning ever available. For aeons, the library has been the information source for many people. Just by walking in the doors of any library you are opening yourself to a world of knowledge and opportunities to make connections. Specialist information gatherers and search engines otherwise known as librarians are raring to help you on your quest.

The ultimate search engine

What is changing is the way in which this information is presented and utilised. No longer is the information confined to a single book, or an out dated encyclopaedia, the clouds are your starting point.

This is not to suggest that books are not useful, however books and resources will need to become fluid and dynamically used to reflect the rapid changes occurring in the world now. It will be a maker-space for knowledge, connection, collaboration and community.

Learning is no longer a static process confined to a single space like a library – it happens anywhere and everywhere. 

How will your library support this?

20131023_081420

The key I believe is creating a space that takes advantage of what’s available now, but with a focus on the future. For example, I know there has been a lot of debate over whether school libraries should E-Book platforms.

The main argument I have heard for no E-books is that the kids don’t want them.

My answer is that they don’t realise that they need them, if you provide the resource they will learn to use it. It is a disservice to not provide the opportunity to them. Those in education need to understand that you are preparing them for the real world, particularly a world that we are not even able to comprehend right now.

Knowledge is multi-modal and students need to understand that books come formats other than print. 

Librarians who think that the platforms are not well developed at the moment have a point.

But think about this:

It’s like Lotto – you’ve got to be in to win.

We have the unique opportunity to provide feedback and frame intuitive platforms if we are involved from step one. If these companies don’t have buy in and are NOT getting feedback from those on the ground, you will never see a truly intuitive platform.

Take some time to think this over.

I am looking forward to my next week of thought provoking discussion and innovation at HPSS!

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