Wednesday, 18 May 2011

The future of the library

Seth Godin is an author, speaker and marketing guru with an interest in libraries.

Seth Godin's blog The future of the Library: what is a public library for? explores the changing role of libraries. According to Seth the role has changed from "The library as warehouse for books worth sharing" to "The library is a house for the librarian". The future according to Seth is built around e-books and electronic information. He concludes

"There are one thousand things that could be done in a place like this [the library], all built around one mission: take the world of data, combine it with the people in this community and create value".

He also suggests that "Librarians that are arguing and lobbying for clever ebook lending solutions are completely missing the point. They are defending library as warehouse as opposed to fighting for the future, which is librarian as producer, concierge, connector, teacher and impresario".

This resonates with the new SINTO training programme Preparing for the future. We have identified two linked themes. The first "Impact" looks at the fundamental question "What is the library for?" The SINTO Members' Day will look at one aspect of this. The second theme is technology and how that will affect libraries. We are running a course on e-book collections. Incidentally, this course may well look at "clever e-book lending solutions"! I am not convinced that we are missing the point here but it is an interesting issue for debate.

But how concerned are librarians with "The Future"? Inevitably many librarians are focused on the present. The financial year end is the future that we are most concerned with. But we all know in our hearts that there are times when we have to get out of the office and take the longer term view. The SINTO training programme is designed to help you achieve that.

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