A lot of people are speculating these days about what the future of libraries will be in our society. The world is a lot smaller today than it was even a decade ago and society is changing the role libraries play and the value they place on libraries – in communities, in schools, and in the workplace.
Libraries used to be defined by their collections, but increasingly, they are defined by the role they play in assisting their institution to meet its larger mission. Whether it is education, profit, or productivity, libraries today are more and more about "just-in-time" and "just-enough," instead of "just-in-case."
The libraries of the future will be embedded even further into the fabric of their organizations – playing key roles in collecting, organizing, sharing and preserving information. In an information economy, libraries will take the burden off their users by providing content and context for information and by facilitating the decision-making process in ways we haven’t even conceived of yet.
In the past, it was said of libraries that they opened the world to their users. The libraries of the future will not only continue to expose users to information and experiences, they will also help their users share their ideas with the world. Many libraries today are experimenting with "maker spaces," and helping people record oral histories, family genealogies, as well as poetry and music.
The future library will be integrated across providers and consumers, and will help everyone find the context for content, whether it is for education, exploration, business, or pleasure.
Of course, most librarians know that is exactly what libraries have always done, in one way or another. The role libraries and librarians have always played is attested to in the acknowledgements of so many volumes of science, literature, art and poetry. But as the digital world has emerged, the role of a library – as place, as provider, and as point of departure – has changed.
Today and in the future, libraries will continue to be a part of the fabric of our society. They will continue to advocate for users; collect and share valuable information, both common and rare; and assist everyone young and old, to find, get, and use information that enriches their lives.
ProQuest is proud to be a partner with the libraries of today and tomorrow. ProQuest content and services are integrated in the user experiences at many libraries today. Many libraries have opened their collections to make rare and important primary source material available to other libraries.
As the future of libraries changes, ProQuest hopes to continue to help them accomplish their mission, every day, in new and exciting ways.
Thank you to Richard Huffine, Senior Director of the Federal Government Market at ProQuest, for this post.