On the Shelves
If you were to build a library in 2020, what items, programs and services would you include? Would you have online training programs, digital music or streaming movies, print books or ebooks?
York County Libraries wants to hear from library cardholders and non-members alike about their visions for the “library of the future” via an online survey called “Let’s Talk Libraries.” The survey continues until 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 24, and can be accessed at www.yorklibraries.org.
“We want to know what the community is looking for in the ‘library of the future,’” said Trish Calvani, president of the York County Library System. “We know that things are changing and we look at this as an opportunity. People are spending more time using computers, laptops and Wi-Fi at libraries. We see a change in the way people are asking for information at the reference desk.”
In the past, people would ask for help finding information on a topic. Now, following an Internet search, they get so many results, they ask for help discerning the best source. Libraries are still heavily used; it is how they are used that is evolving in tandem with technological advances.
“We want to continue to be relevant to our communities,” said Calvani, who views the survey as more of a community conversation. The opinions gathered in “Let’s Talk Libraries” will provide system leaders with direction that will be integral in this year’s upcoming strategic planning.
“We believe this plan will be about building the ‘library of the future,’” she said.
In preparation for the process, she and the library system board have scheduled a three-part speaker series.
Recently, Douglas County Libraries Director Jamie LaRue kicked off the speaker series. He shared the method his libraries in Colorado use to purchase ebooks from independent book publishers — an economical way to provide quality literature to their readers in an era where three of the six major book publishers have refused to sell ebooks to libraries.
In an innovative move, his libraries are helping local authors publish their ebooks by providing them with the resources and connections they need.
LaRue also pointed to the continued importance that story time plays in brain development and emergent literacy, and entertained the role of “library as an office,” where people converge to do business.
Futurist Garry Golden will expand the vantage point in mid-September, when he talks about future trends at large and how libraries will merge with them. He will also help library leaders to take a closer look at the “Let’s Talk Libraries” survey results, teaching them how to identify trends, gather correlating information, and best use that information in thinking about the future.
The final speaker of the series will be nationally known library consultant Joan Frye Williams, this year’s featured speaker for the annual staff in-service in late September. Frye Williams will talk about how libraries will change the role they play in the community by moving away from being “agencies of information” to “facilitators of transformation” in the lives of the people they serve.
Exactly what that will look like here in York County will no doubt evolve from the opinions gleaned from the community conversation, the knowledge garnered from these expert speakers, and the strategic planning process that will ultimately build the “library of the future.”
Deborah Sullivan is community relations director for the York County Library System.