The Office for Information Technology Policy just released a report examining technology and its impact on the future of libraries. Checking out the future: perspectives from the library community on information technology and 21st century libraries discusses a broad range of topics that will interest the entire library community.
Topics discussed, taken from page 3 of the report:
•• Will the library continue to provide a physical space for individuals to advance their knowledge and skills and access vast tangible and digital collections, while also serving as a community center designed to foster communication and collaboration, as well as an online virtual destination offering an entry point to networked digital services and materials?
And will the library emphasize one of these roles at the expense of the others? For many, the library has been a quiet place for study and solitude, providing an opportunity to interact with individuals engaged in similar pursuits in a communal but not social sense. Is this type of environment, historically central to the library’s mission, endangered if
libraries evolve into community centers or portals to the virtual worlds of the future?
•• How will future library professionals organize, store, and distribute information? How will school (and other) librarians support information literacy in physical and digital environments?
•• What will a book look like? A database? A scholarly journal? What new forms of information may develop?
•• Will metadata tagging, advanced search algorithms, and networked books significantly alter the way library users find, absorb, even “read” information?
•• Will print on demand alter the notion of categorized collections lining shelves in the stacks? Library professionals today are discussing the amount of space that will be devoted to physical materials in the 21st century.
•• Beyond the physical confines of a building, what role will libraries and librarians play as the arbiters of information quality? Will the profession of librarianship endure?
•• Should librarians become experts in informatics, social networking, e‑government, civic participation, and community development? Or, as some fear, will the librarian become a luxury that communities, schools, and universities cannot afford, replaced by a computer, a network, or a business? Will the quality, credibility, and integrity of information suffer as a result?