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)