Libraries from Now On: Imagining the Future of Libraries

On May 2 and 3, 2014, eighty librarians and representatives from organizations that work with libraries met at the Library of Congress to discuss the future of libraries.     Inspired by five nationally recognized speakers and their own table discussions, participants engaged in wide ranging conversations about the trends in society that libraries will have to address and how librarians might prepare, respond, and, in fact, lead libraries into that future.   The results of the discussion will inform the development of a Center for the Future of Libraries to be initiated by the American Library Association in the spring of 2014.

Participants were challenged with remarks by author and journalist Stephen Dubner, “How to Think Like a Freak,” on thinking differently in order to plan for the future.  Lincoln Professor of Law, Culture, and Values at Arizona State University Joel Garreau asked, “What Are Libraries Good For?” in discussing culture, values, and society.  Chancellor and President of the University of Houston Dr. Renu Khator challenged the group to consider “Education in the Future – Anywhere, Anytime.”   Executive Director and Senior Futurist at the DaVinci Institute Thomas Frey described a transition “From an Internet of Things to a Library of Things.”  Library Futurist Joan Frye Williams concluded the conference with a summation of key points discussed throughout the two days.

In addition to the key speakers, participants also had the opportunity to discuss each speaker’s comments in a facilitated table discussion; to contribute their personal reflections on the speaker’s remarks; to consider key elements in the Declaration for the Right to Libraries; and hear remarks from Dr. James Billington, Librarian of Congress.  At the opening of the Summit, participants were asked to select “two words” that reflected their thoughts on the future of libraries as they began the Summit.  Throughout the Summit, they had the opportunity to add to these words on ribbons attached to their name badges.

This report will summarize the comments by the key speakers and the responses from the participants, including identification of key issues and ideas on the future of libraries.

Læs rapporten her.



Michael Cotta-Schønberg