Not Much Said About Bookless Libraries

ACRLog was a bit premature in announcing the NPR program about the future of the library in the 21st century. Will libraries be “bookless” and how will they redefine their role in a world of radical new information technology? The recording of the program is now available. I just finished listening to it, and there is little said that would be new to most academic librarians. Focusing primarily on the public library, alternatives to books were mentioned but visions of bookless libraries never really materialized. The good news is that it presents an opportunity for the public – or at least the segment that listens to NPR – to hear that librarians are experimenting with new information technologies, and that libraries are not deserted in the Internet age. In fact, more was said about the social and cultural role of libraries in their communities than bookless libraries of the future. Tom Frey of the DaVinci Institute had some interesting points, but no radical predictions for the library of the future. He said that libraries will still be here, but that they would need to adapt, transition, and transform in order to integrate new information technologies into traditional services. Perhaps the high point of the program was the folks who called in to say the library is more than just books, and that citizens look to librarians to help them learn how to use new technologies and navigate the complex information landscape.

If I was writing this as a CHOICE review I’d label this program “optional”. In fact, I would say that your time could be better spent taking in a presentation by George Siemens, of the Connectivism Blog, about “Rethinking Learning.” His presentation (slides and audio) will challenge some of your traditional thinking about how learning happens, and how learning is changing in a networked world.

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