Monday, February 13, 2006

Envisioning The Future of Libraries

Thanks to Penny Hazleton who sent out this link to the DaVinci Institute. This is a very interesting and thought-provoking piece about the future of libraries, mostly from a public library point of view. But there is a lot here to think on for law librarians and their users as well -- they predict the demise of books, and of literacy entirely, for instance by 2050! Wow! That's a little faster than I would have imagined, even on my students' worst days. They also have very thought-provoking suggestions for libraries.

One of the most interesting new developments I have been watching myself is electronic paper. I have a great deal of arthritis in my hands. Books are difficult for me to manipulate. I use book racks, or confine myself to reading light-weight paper-back books for pleasure that I can more easily handle away from my book racks. I also have difficulty bending my head to read; you don't realize how much you bend and move your head in reading. Electronic paper would allow creation of light-weight books of just a few flexible pages that could update the next five pages or page back by touching an arrow. One could have an entire newspaper or magazine delivered this way, to the same five page booklet each morning or month.

Electronic paper may transform both legal research and my leisure reading. Libraries could check out or readers could own these books. The libraries might just "check out" and send to the patron the signal or perhaps give a small, secure device for saving the data of the "book." There could be search functions, as there are for databases now, but the reader would have the advantage of actual, physical browsing, seeing 2 pages open at once, and being able to flip back and forth between pages. There would also still be that possibility of serendipity.

Read here about what Xerox is doing about electronic paper:
I could not reach Wikipedia this morning. I wonder if the newspaper articles are causing a huge rush at their website. They do have an article about electronic paper:

I am not against moving into a digital library. I think we are being pushed into before the kinks are worked out. I think the publishers have not understood what the implications are for their own publishing houses. I also think the legal profession is looking at real implications that need to be addressed. We should not walk blindly into these huge changes if we can plan at all and have some better outcomes, both for the businesses/professions involved and for the society. I just don't want to dive off the bridge until I know what's under the water. This image is from
And says it is the Royal Couple watching Native children diving for coins at Whakarewarewa, Rotorua, 3 January 1954, by courtesy of the Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. I'm afraid I feel like one of the Maori kids right now!

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