Libraries of the Future

Wes Fryer’s blog post on Libraries of the Future offers some challenging thoughts for teacher-librarians everywhere.  Here he looks at the Mindspot Project in Denmark – a project involving ‘mind-keepers’ – employees who work at the library and come up with a lot of initiaives, and ‘mind-spotters’ – young people who say whether these ideas and events are relevant and useful or not.

Mindspot focuses on what is interesting and relevant for young people; it focuses on their needs for the library, not the library’s need for them.  The Mindspot team also have a Spotmobile – a caravan which goes to festivals, the city, the beach, the park outside the library, and meets young people where they are. I especially love the photo of the cushions in the carpark!

On a similar note, Doug Johnson on his Blue Skunk Blog recently opened a can of worms when he posted a comment from his school officials:

“Does a school need a library when information can be accessed from the classroom using Internet connected laptops?”

He says “The new question is uncomfortable, messy, and incredibly important and not restricted by any means to one particular school. It is one to which all library people need a clear and compelling answer.”

He has previously addressed this question in other articles:

Teacher-librarians feel strongly and passionately about this subject, and below are some of the 40 comments left on his blog post:

“If the library might come to be seen more as a workshop where information isn’t so much a product, as it is a raw material (a Kinkos for kids, if you will), then it may remain not only viable, but an essential institution.”  (David Warlick)

“Students also hanker for a warm, comfortable social space to COLLABORATIVELY share media experiences – meet friends face-to-face to deconstruct and analyze events in thier lives – collaborate on assigned work and personal learning challenges – explore the “virtual” world they know parallels the here and now – “invent” the world they are getting set to step into.”  (Rob Rubis)

“So, to extend that… If the Internet has everything we need to learn, why do we need teachers?” (Linda Fox)

“Tapscott and Williams recommend taking stock, as you are here. They ask:
What do your customers need today? What will they need in the future? How can we complement or add value to our existing products and services? What new market opportunities present the greatest opportunities for growth? As we develop new ideas, what can we deliver internally? What should we source externally? Are there exciting new clusters of innovation happening that we can tap into? Where can we work closely with partners to create even more value?”  (Carolyn Foote)

“The library is NOT just a room but a service. It should be anywhere and everywhere to support students and staff.”  (L. Hardin)

“The library fundamentally is not a room, or a collection, it is a service…an information service! So the real argument here is not about whether what we provide is books, or the internet, a welcoming room or an icon on the desktop of every workstation in school… it is about providing what information our users need in the format they require. So that may mean that the cosy room valued by most of us may no longer be required in our schools, but the persoanlised information service by someone who knows the users and their needs can never be replaced by a search engine. The role of the school librarian also incorporates helping the user to develop the skills to become independent learners as well, so that hopefully by the time they leave our schools they have a whole host of search information strategies in place which go way beyond just typing a vague term into Google.”  (Anne-Marie Tarter)


As information needs and delivery have changed so swiftly, so libraries are being forced to re-evaluate, re-invent themselves and re-emerge as exciting, contemporary and relevant spaces.

While a strong and vibrant web presence is vitally important, so too is physical space, as shown by the fact that 108 million people visited 1,500 public libraries in Australia last year. (ALIA)

The Rosedale branch of the Baltimore County Public Library in America is one such library that has had a vision for adapting to changing needs, and they have created a fantastic learning space for toddlers and pre-schoolers called Storyville.

“Caregivers and their young children can explore the seven museum-quality learning areas in the village. These include a library, a two-story house, theater, store, Chesapeake Bay waterfront for toddlers, baby garden and construction site. Each area is furnished with books and engaging materials and activities which promote language and literacy, as well as other vital school readiness skills.

Babies and their caregivers can engage in peek-a-boo and play with sensory toys or read board books in their garden; toddlers can crawl through driftwood, read in a lighthouse, rock in a toy boat, fish or gaze up at the stars; preschoolers can play house in the home living area, present plays and puppet shows in the theater, shop in the store and practice building at the construction site. The library, stocked with a variety of children’s books and comfortable seating, invites reading together. Books, displayed in every area, as well as parent resource materials and themed take home kits, are available for checkout.” Storyville Baltimore County Public Library

See also BookTagger Blog and James Bradberry Architects

Tag Galaxy

Tag Galaxy, one of the Flickr Tools, is a unique visual search engine which searches images from Flickr, then brings each category up like a series of planets rotating around a sun.

If you click on one of the rotating ‘planets’,  this will add extra terms to your search and reduce the number of photos in your final search.  When you have narrowed your search enough, click on the central ‘sun’ to view all the images in the unique rotating sphere, which you can then spin in different directions.

“Clicking on the central “star” will close in on that star and fill it with exactly 235 picture thumbnails. The star can be rotated with the left mouse button and zoomed with the mouse wheel. A click on a preview image will load that image in front, another click will load information about the picture like the name of the artist, a description and a link to the Flickr page.” (

Click twice on an image to enlarge it, then either click a thrid time to shrink it back, or follow the link to view more photos in someone’s photostream in Flickr. If you would like to see more images, click on the link at the top of the screen to replace those images with another 235.

Watch a video of how Tag Galaxy works or, for an alternative way to view images easily, check out Cooliris.

Twitter for Libraries


Twitter – send a message in 140 characters – is one of the fastest-growing social networking phenomenas ever.  Guy Kawasaki calls it “the most powerful marketing tool invented since TV,…and it’s free.”

In just 3 years it has “evolved into a powerful new marketing and communications tool. Regional emergency preparedness organizations are looking at Twitter as a way to reach millions of people during a disaster. NASA is using it to regularly update interested parties about the status of space shuttle flights. And one journalist solicited help from fellow Twitterers to get himself out of an Egyptian jail.” (The Twitter Revolution)

To get a better idea of what Twitter is all about, here is an article by Sarah Milstein that explains it simply, and in particular looks at the ways in which libraries are using or could use this sevice. (Richard Beaudry)

Sarah says “a library could share all kinds of news that patrons want. Short messages can tell people about events such as readings, lectures, and book sales; newly available resources; or changes in the building hours. One message a day or one a week could share a tip on finding or accessing information online or in the building. Twitter posts can link to interesting news stories about literacy or about libraries. When appropriate, the posts can link to a library’s own website and blog for more in-depth information.”

Phil Bradley also has some suggestions for libraries and the types of things they could Twitter:

  • General information updates – opening/closing times
  • Staff information – new staff, old staff, anything about staff
  • New resources – new materials perhaps, collections of resources in particular areas, brief notes on resources that can be used for specific purposes/projects
  • General information – a library is there to provide access to knowledge, so why not do it via Twitter as well – ‘this day in history’, local events taking place in the town, pointers towards resources to supplement information on specific news stories
  • Countdowns for events taking place in the library
  • Linking to images of/in/about the library
  • News alerting services – take feeds from the BBC and CNN for example and reTweet (copy and send on) to your followers
  • Notify students/staff/users/clients about any and everything the library is doing.
  • Be involved in any conversations that take place regarding your organisation, library or subject area of interest
  • Current awareness with regards specific subjects for specific groups of people
  • Updating a news RSS feed on your library page
  • Share best practices with other libraries

“Given the many potential uses of Twitter for libraries—not to mention the likelihood that your patrons are already on it—it’s a great medium to embrace. And at just a few sentences a day, the lightweight format doesn’t require much time to make a big impact.” (Sarah Milstein)

See also  Librarian, Library and Catalog Tweets Revealed!

Flip Video Camera

If you haven’t used a Flip video camera before, they are amazingly easy to use and are ideal for use in schools, especially with younger children.  Just point and click, then click again to stop. In good light, the quality of the video is quite good for such a simple camera, and the built-in microphone captures sounds very well.

One of the best features is an inbuilt USB connector which flips out from the side and plugs straight into a USB port on a computer, making downloading extremely simple.

The Muvee software which comes with the camera is also very user-friendly, and seamlessly stitches together whichever video clips are selected, as well as adding background music. Once the movie is created, it is easy to share the link with others.  This camera is so engaging and easy to use that even the most reluctant teachers might be enticed!

Click on the link below to watch a short video made at a  School Library Assn PD session in Townsville, Queensland, to demonstrate how easy and effective the camera is:   townsville-slaq-pd-7-mar

Also, here are a couple of links to sites where you can purchase these cameras: