Recently MS&R began a discussion about the future of the Library.
I took this to mean "The Library" as place and not the physical physical repository of printed media. The following are some of my thoughts on the matter.
If you want to look at the library of the future, you need to look beyond just their physical contents. It will take an understanding about what the library functions as for community and we can examine that through what the library does now.
You can break that down into 3 major categories.
Libraries are an access point to the digital knowledge and resources available on the web at a HIGH SPEED of access that may otherwise be out of budget for the home.
2) Community Gathering:
Principally the library is a community gathering space for research and acquisition of knowledge. but when you really think about it, they may be the first public social networking site in the analogue world.
3) Community Building
Libraries provide cultural exposure to different societies relevant to the community we are apart of locally. This includes clubs, speaking engagements, book readings, children’s story time, and topical discussions about current issues that provide a forum for discussion. This is the backbone of community building.
One direction of thought
If you want to keep the library relevant you have to look beyond the physical and understand the cultural relevancy of the place. So looking at each category.
If publications move more to digital copies. That doesn’t mean the price of either the devices to access that material or the bandwidth to download it will be be attainable to the public.
2) Community Gathering:
The need for a place that offers publicly accessible gathering will always be there… if we foster it. In an age of Facebook and Twitter, there may be more need than ever to offer something that can’t be done in a virtual world. Perhaps it’s meeting people we don’t know, who share ideas, problems, or interests that are in common or in conflict.
3) Community Building:
While it’s nice to keep in touch and spy on my friends activities on my personal time and from the comfort of my own home. It still isn’t a replacement for in person communication. The relevance of nuance and subtly of intonation is hard to express in 144 characters.
A Final Thought
While I can listen to 20 podcasts about Photography, and I can read and comment on hundreds of blogs about industry news and tips and tricks. There is still something about coming together at my monthly Camera Club, that I can’t get else where. There is a tangible benefit to getting to meet people who share a similar interest at a local happy hour.
You can find the full post on MS&R's blog here.