Most of my academic work has taken place within a Library school. Indeed when I was at school many, many years ago I wanted to go and get a degree in Librarianship but my life path intervened so I have a deep but distanced interest in the Library world. Obviously one of the challenges facing libraries all over the world but especially close at hand are financial cutbacks, pressure on space and another one at the same time is the increasing digitisation of the ‘written word’ – according to some sources causing a decline in the use of the traditional library as my generation know it.
Although I’m a committed Kindle fan (in terms of the Kindle being my electronic reader of choice) and haven’t visited a library (for various reasons) in years, I’m conscious that the loss of libraries from the sphere of public / school life will be a material loss to the intellectual and cultural life of the community.
How can libraries / library services survive and evolve to meet these challenges?
I’d really love to see some new models of provision come forward – more digital services being delivered remotely to individuals – who are accessing the service through their laptop / ereader/ tablet or even smartphone. Amazon have deployed this model in a very limited way (only for Prime members and only one book per month). The access to free books on Amazon has helped me build my ‘own’ library up.
Librarians need to become much more visibly the information and user specialists they are trained to be; organising digital collections (I really, really hate the fact that in newer kindle applications on the ipad / windows 8 / as as far as I can see the Kindle fire that there only three options for sorting books – recent, by author or by title. One of my main reasons for keeping with my original kindle this christmas), advising users, teaching information literacy, advising on purchasing material.
Of course Physical books aren’t obsolete, there will always be a place for physical libraries but perhaps not quite as many as people believe.