Future of Libraries

by Joanne Straight, Teen Librarian

January 9, 2001

You may have heard some people say that we won't have printed books or libraries as we know them in the future. Tell that to the over 4,000 librarians who were at the recent Public Library Association's Conference in Charlotte, NC. The Association is the largest division of the American Library Association and focuses on the development and effectiveness of public library service and public librarians.

Beverly Vetter, Head of Children’s Services and I were fortunate enough to attend this biennial conference. Libraries of all sizes were represented. I spoke with the single full time employee of a library in Arkansas and librarians who worked for city libraries with over twenty branches.

The opening session featured Michael Gelb, author of "How to Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci". Gelb believes that by stretching our intellect, through Da Vinci's seven principles, we can unlock the genius inside us.

There was an incredible selection of programs presented. Frequently, I wished I could be in two places at once so I could attend two (or more) sessions simultaneously. I attended programs on topics ranging from strategies for reaching young adults to designing excellent collections to improving customer service. I came back with lots of handouts and many ideas to share and discuss with the library staff.

Additional presentations dealt with current issues in technology, the library of the future, internet law, planning for the future, and comics in the library.

Will there be books in libraries of the future or will computers and e-books eliminate the printed word? More and more resources are available online and I expect this trend will continue. I believe there will still be a place for books. Somehow, I don't see myself curling up in front of a computer screen to enjoy a book at the beach or in bed. Besides, what would I do with all the bookmarks I've collected over the years?