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Reimagining the library

BubbleWhat will the library of the future look like? Here are two items that crossed my path recently that show some possible directions public libraries might take.

The Bubbler

You may have already heard that Madison is planning for a maker-focused programming model in the new Central Library. It has a name now ("The Bubbler"), a description, and a short video telling more about the project. There was also a great article in the Isthmus about the evolving nature of libraries.

Bookless library

In 2013, San Antonio's Bexar County will be home to BiblioTech, described as "the country's first book-less public library."

It will look like a modern library, but there won't be any books --- just computers, gadgets, and ebooks. You can read more about it here:

I'm not sure I'm ready to completely give up physical books, but the makerspace idea totally appeals to me! What do you think about these possible directions?


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I love the maker spaces idea and think that will be very well received and highlight that role in our communities. I'm not so keen at this point in time with going all digital to the exclusion of the printed book for public libraries because publishers are so severely limiting access to materials in e-book format. That means that communities would have to depend on privately purchasing their reading materials from certain publishers, and libraries could only provide access to those materials that publishers allow. IMO this is too limiting for public libraries to go in this direction. When publishers open up access to materials in digital format, then I think it's an interesting idea. I'm curious what percentage of the general population has access to an e-reader, as well.

I think The Bubbler has a lot of potential, but a lot will depend on the quality of the "teachers" as well as the availability of the equipment and the materials to "make" with. Enough time for participants to "make" things may be a factor as well.

As for the libraries going "bookless" it seems to me like they'll be pretty handicapped by the scarcity (IMHO) of loanable ereaders. But I'm sure the public will appreciate free internet access-- although they might be inconvenienced by a trip to the library and whatever limits their open hours impose.

Both ventures are to be lauded for trying new things of course. I hope they can find success.

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