The Ghost of Library Future


In all my Posts about the 21st Century Library, I have been regrettably lacking in providing enough examples of what that apparition looks like. USAToday online today published an article by AP Reporter Jeannie Nuss Libraries launch apps to sync with iPod generation that gave a few sterling details to that ghost of library future.

“People tend to have this antiquated version of libraries, like there’s not much more inside than books and microfiche,” says Hiller Goodspeed, a 22-year-old graphic designer in Orlando, Fla., who uses the Orange County Library System’s iPhone app to discover foreign films.
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In Princeton, N.J., 44 people are waiting to borrow Kindles, a wireless reading device. Roya Karimian, 32, flipped through the preloaded e-pages of “Little Women” after two months on the waiting list. “I had already read it, but I wanted to experience reading it on the Kindle,” Karimian says.
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The Grandview Heights Public Library in suburban Columbus, Ohio, spent $4,500 – a third of what the library spent on CDs – to give patrons access to songs by artists from Beyonce to Merle Haggard using a music-downloading service called Freegal.
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The Cuyahoga County Public Library near Cleveland laid off 41 employees and cut back on hours after its budget shrank by $10 million. But it still maintains a Twitter account and texts patrons when items are about to become overdue.
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In Florida, the Orange County library’s Twitter feed sounds more like a frat boy than a librarian: “There’s more to OCLS than just being really, really ridiculously good looking. We created an App!”
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Jennifer Reeder, a 35-year-old mother of two in suburban Phoenix, tracks her reading stats on Goodreads.com: 12,431 pages so far this year – most of them in library books.
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Even the brick-and-mortar buildings are evolving, as libraries cater to a generation with smart phones stapled to their hands and music plugged into their ears. Sleek study areas give off a coffee-shop vibe, while silence seekers are relegated to nooks. Self-checkout stations feel more like supermarkets, with patrons ringing up books and DVDs instead of boxes of cereal. Libraries are designing new branches as hybrid technology centers – dedicating more space to computer labs and meeting rooms.
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“The traditional function of a library, of being a place where people can come to get information, to learn, to relax, to kind of lose themselves in books, is going to continue,” says [Chris] Tonjes, of the D.C. Public Library. “It’s just not going to be constrained by physical boundaries.”

What does your 21st Century Library look like?

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