Category Archives: YLibrary Back

Libraries and structural change 7

In my last post I discussed the ‘promise’ of libraries remarking that it appears to float remarkably freely from anything in particular that libraries do. Because it is amorphous and strange, yet also powerful and therefore not easily ignored, the promise of libraries, may come to be distrusted as a form of irrational sentimentality; dismissed in favour of something more solidly utilitarian – improved educational outcomes for instance, or social cohesion or even economic growth. But you can be useful without being loved and you can be loved without being useful. Usually the reasons for love aren’t clear. Love is a mystery; it floats notoriously freely from rational argument or explanation. Everyone knows that.

Libraries are much loved institutions. This isn’t incidental to what they are or to their continued existence. In fact it can only be central; love being up there in the field of human concerns. We want libraries to continue to be much loved institutions. It would be a terrible loss if they ceased to be that. Thus understanding the predicament of libraries, what to do about them, or with them, at this critical juncture in their history, must entail at least brief consideration of love.

Love is inertial; it may endure without any basis in reality; by the warm glow of a promise alone; or it may be rooted in some combination of promise and reality. Certainly it is rarely rooted solely in reality and is not sustainably rooted in promise alone. Sooner or later the original impetus exhausts itself; sunlight turns to starlight, emitting only theoretical warmth.

It’s always a relief to be loved. Bathed in love’s euphoric glow, whether the love springs from promise or its fulfilment may seem immaterial. But the trouble with being loved for a promise is that at some point the promise has to be fulfilled.

The gap between promise and fulfilment is a sea gap, bridged by what we do; what libraries do – the practice of libraries. Sometimes, suddenly, cataclysmically, sea gaps widen, or reefs and shoals appear where there had been none, rendering the old maps useless, or worse. In the event of such upheaval, plying the once familiar gap between promise and its fulfilment ceases to be a matter of doing what you’d always done, no matter how conscientiously.

It’s not difficult to arouse people’s feelings about libraries. Perhaps uniquely, libraries lend themselves to rhetoric normally reserved for national constitutions: The object of this Act is to contribute to the social cultural and intellectual development of all Queenslanders, heralds State Library’s enabling legislation. Existing to support the free flow of information and ideas, libraries have a special responsibility to oppose the infringement of intellectual freedom, including infringement by omission – neglect of the needs of individuals and communities – and by commission – exclusion, the violation of privacy and censorship, proclaims State Library’s Intellectual Freedom Policy

Rhetoric has its place; it kindles the promise’s fire. It’s always reassuring to feel the promise’s vitality and warmth. You can be far from home, lost on an unfamiliar road, and there the promise appears, through an open door before you, burning brightly; a vision of things, as vital and relevant as ever.

On the other hand, huddling at the promise’s hearth can too easily become a substitute for continuing the journey: refusing the snug torpor of dream but every day pushing further along the road, pushing the road further along; feeling the exhilaration and dread of unfamiliarity, having good days and bad, but always honouring a promise.

It’s pleasing when the stories we need to be true actually turn out to be true and troubling and sometimes a lot worse when they don’t. Aversion to thinking that the ending won’t be happy may induce blindness to evidence pointing to this outcome. In this situation the implicit and dreaded expectation – that the story is turning out to be, well, just a story, its foothold in reality crumbling away – becomes self-fulfilling, for without the drift towards a feared predicament being unflinchingly observed and acknowledged nothing at all can possibly done to arrest and reverse it. It’s important to see clearly, to use the promise responsibly, to illuminate how it might be honoured; as compass more than justification; not just as a way of keeping warm.

Beyond about twenty years ago it was possible for libraries and librarians to be good simply by conscientiously doing what they’d always done, conscientiously following a certain fairly stable, time honoured set of practices. Sea crossings were routine and ship wrecks and other accidents at sea rare; roads passed through familiar, secure territory; being a library wasn’t a voyage of discovery.

About twenty years ago all of this began not to be true. Sea gaps began to widen, reefs and shoals began to appear where there had been none; the old roads began to fall short of the promise. What it meant to be a good library, a good librarian, fundamentally unchanging for generations, began to change. And yet, even as the terms of its fulfilment continue to dramatically shift the promise continues to burn as brightly as ever before.

When structural change undermines the efficacy of inherited, time honoured practices inevitably it’s not clear what to do. The natural initial response to the beleaguerment of a deeply felt promise is consternation and confusion. Naturally, the prospect of the sundering of practice and promise becoming permanent, the idea that for entirely mysterious reasons something wonderful is irrevocably doomed, causes degrees of sadness.

Not knowing what to do can be unnerving. Discovering new routes to the fulfilment of a persistent promise takes time, patience and goodwill; even a little compassion and forgiveness. It requires grasping the promise directly; being alive to its fulfilment, knowing and valuing deep down what it means for someone, anyone, to see, feel, understand something new, something transformative, for the first time. Counterintuitively – and counter to most ways of thinking the future of libraries – it requires looking backwards – back to the time when practice cleaved closely to promise. We need to remember what we’re trying to be, as a condition of formulating new ways of doing that in radically transformed conditions.

Seasickness be damned! by Suzanne Verrall

Rough sea with a Dutch yacht under sail.

The following entry was received in the #YLibrary Writing Competition. Suzanne Verall writes about the library of the future.

Seasickness be damned! by Suzanne Verrall

On a ship sailing through life, sailing through time, through space. Sailing in fair weather and storms, under blue skies and strange stars. Iridescent flying fish and ghastly tentacled monsters. Unknown coastlines. Untravelled waters.

The ship’s captain is called Librarian. Excellent in a crisis, she supplies information, solutions, ideas and possibilities. She keeps the vessel seaworthy. She is first mate and navigator. Explorer extraordinaire. And when the sea is calm and I relax, or when there is nothing I can do but batten down the hatches and wait, she brings stories.

The ship has many charts. A compass. All manner of maritime instruments, some of which I have mastered. Still I have much to learn. One thing is certain: our course is plotted.

Destination – Future.

And then I dream and I realise I am the ship. Oh, the captain remains the same. For Library is the sea.

YLibrary image competition

Libraries are changing to meet your needs now and in the future. Thinking about the future, we would like to know:

  1. What you want to be doing in the library of the future?
  2. What you think you will see in the library of the future?
  3. How we can be a part of your future?
  4. How do you connect to the library?
  5. What would bring you to the library?

How to enter:

  1. Submit an original photograph, image or infographic that you have created, that communicates your thoughts in response to one of the five #ylibrary questions to
  2. Tweet your image with the hashtag #ylibrary.

The competition opens 10.00am AEST Friday 13 December 2013 and closes 11.59pm AEST Sunday 2 February 2014. The top 3 entries will be posted to the SLQ Today blog and SLQ’s Facebook, Twitter and Flickr accounts. Prizes will be awarded to the most original and imaginative entries.

View the terms and conditions.

The Library of the Future by Bodie Van Den Berg

Here is Bodie Van Den Berg’s entry in the #YLibrary Writing Competition.

The library of the future will be a signpost, a repository, and a fortress. It will exist in virtual space and physical, even more than it does now. It will direct and inform, it will be active and reactive, and it will stand fast in the face of mis-, dis-, and non-information. It will be a playground where big data, open data, classic, pulp and pop literature all play together nicely, under the watchful eyes of librarians who tend and love them all, but send them off to whoever needs them. At the same time, it will be a place where myths are destroyed, housed, enjoyed and created. Elements of it will survive from the Present – the air conditioning and silence – but it will evolve as well, pointing the way if not able to annex the destination. Media of all sorts will eventually be included in its’ collections, even if metadata can’t yet quantify it, and might not ever be able to do so. Soon, the library won’t just be a community hub – it will be the community itself, and it will still be my favorite place when that happens.

Tell us what you think. I want my library to …

#YLibrary writing competition winner

The winner of the #YLibrary of the Future Writing Competition is Sophie Manion. Sophie will receive an iPad mini. Congratulations Sophie!

Here is her winning entry:

I want to hear the voices of a million lives. I want to brush their hearts with the tips of my fingers and feel as they feel, with their skin and their lungs and their ears. It takes a moment – a light on a screen, a battery cord plugged in – but then I can. In a moment I am timeless. The library is a passport to worlds that exist only in the mind. I am lost amongst these places with my greatest friends, my most treasured heroes. Words can transport me. I can listen or I can read but I will always experience. It doesn’t matter whether I can touch the ink, smell the fresh pages or instead, scroll down the electronic page with a gesture of my hand. The future is a grand place but it is those words, the magic that I can only find in a library, that can teleport me away to somewhere I’ve never been. Whether I walk through those open doors from my computer, or on my phone, or physically – I will always find a new world waiting in that maze of books. There are some things that will never change.

#Ylibrary : Making the Case for the Library as Space for Infinite Learning by Michael Stephens

“The time was when a library was very like a museum and the librarian was a mouser in musty books. The time is when the library is a school and the librarian is in the highest sense a teacher…” Melvil Dewey, 1876

When you look at recent media about librarians you see a typical pattern. Librarians are hip, tattooed, happening, and networked—this is not your grandparents’ library. The public may react with “I thought librarians were just shushers, hired to keep the place quiet and manage the books.” The librarians’ reaction, on the other hand, is usually “Oh, another article where someone shows their “read” tattoo and reveals their favorite apps.”

What I would argue is that librarians have been constantly evolving. Sure, the tattoos, the hip funky clothing, and the 24/7 connections are one part of the evolution. But, what’s most interesting to me is how we, as librarians, have adapted our roles over time in relation to our core values and mission. One of these intrinsic values is that of library as the “people’s university” – an open education resource or commons – or center for lifelong learning. The role of teacher then, is not out of the question for one of the evolving duties of library professionals.

I just finished teaching the Hyperlinked Library MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), with co-instructor Kyle Jones, at San Jose State University’s School of Library and Information Science. The course brought together practitioners from all over the world to explore the hyperlinked library model and participatory service in an open, online platform. It was intended as a way to enhance the professional development opportunities for our participants. From my point of view on the receiving end of this experience, teaching and learning from 300+ participants, I see great value in this type of self-directed, continuous learning. The value is enhanced further when we consider that the librarians, who participated in this pilot MOOC, communicated and interacted with their colleagues from remote and isolated areas of the world via blogging, videos, and more. This is also a step on the evolution of a librarian’s own learning journey: large scale courses devoted to emerging thinking and emerging technologies.

Looking In: Learning to Learn 

The always-in-beta librarian is part of the evolution that I describe above. I think we’ve done a good job of late developing professional learning opportunities. For example, Learning 2.0 or “23 Things” has been a keystone for library learning since 2006. I was very lucky in 2009 to have researched this phenomenon in Australia and discovered that the libraries that offered these inclusive, exploration-driven, and technology-focused learning experiences, reaped the benefits of a more confident and technology-competent staff. Similar programs have offered other avenues for librarians to improve and add skills, including a program focused on mobile applications and mobile devices.

This is evidence to me that we, as librarians, are evolving. We are curious about our changing information and media environments. We are immersing ourselves into the technologies and social spaces that our patrons experiment with and use. These are just some ways I see librarians changing beyond noticing their fashion choices and skin art. The evolutions, however, are not just online, we are also seeing some wonderful developments in library physical spaces.

Looking Out: Evolving Spaces

It’s much more interesting to me when we look outside the physical library space and study the people that we serve. What type of learning opportunities are we providing for them? In a time when most people turn to Google on their mobile devices for quick answers, what type of learning experiences can libraries provide? Sure, libraries have provided all sorts of classes over the years for their patrons, including how-to and DIY presentations and sessions devoted to technology and navigating the World Wide Web. I’d argue that as part of our evolution as an educational and teaching space, expanding and updating these offerings for the 21st century is mandatory. These offerings should be available within physical library spaces as well as virtually hosted by libraries.

There are some notable examples of this.

I’m impressed that the Queensland State Library adapted Learning 2.0 a few years ago as a way to offer the immersive, online learning that the library staff had received to the public. I’m also impressed when I read about the innovation happening in physical library spaces.  SLQ’s “The Edge” and other libraries, such as the Chattanooga Public Library “fourth floor,” are expanding what’s possible within library walls. Participation and collaboration reign. The Edge tagline sums it up well: “Empowering creative experimentation.” The Chattanooga Public Library “fourth floor” is a space for creation and production of new knowledge and new things. Prototyping, experimenting, and dreaming are all part of the experience in these spaces, which includes 3-D printers, high-end experimental technologies, and open, welcoming vibes.

Infinite Learning

Looking forward, I want these spaces and services to grow. I imagine libraries of the future as spaces for infinite learning. People will visit the library, both in person or virtually, and discover something new and outside-the-box to satisfy their curiosity. I would suggest libraries explore how they might serve students taking massive open online courses, and how they might offer their own large-scale, localized learning opportunities. How we help people make sense of a very confusing technological world filled with information streams will be one of our primary duties

This isn’t a new idea. The Melvil Dewey quote that I used to open this essay resonates with me. “The time is when the library is a school and the librarian is in the highest sense a teacher…” He wrote that in 1876, and as librarians, we are evolving, and it is still true. Librarians should seek every opportunity to be teachers in their communities. Library users should look to the library for opportunities to experience new things, new ideas, and new technologies

How do we do this? I imagine one of many potential scenarios in which stakeholders, library staff, community technology leaders, the public, the curious, and everyone in between might come together to experience all the possible avenues to creativity and discovery available in within our virtual and physical library spaces. I would advocate for encouraging creativity in as many ways as possible, from art, performance and intellectual exchange to DIY programs, hack-a-thons, and access and instruction on making things.

To the librarians who read this: keep learning! Commit to your own professional development strategies. Try a MOOC or 23 Things. Learn always.

To the library users who read this: Why the library? you may ask. Think beyond the library as a “book warehouse.” Think instead about the engaged evolving professionals and staff inside and virtually who are eager to help you find your passion, find your voice and find your way.

#ylibrary some wonder? To promote all types of learning  — anywhere & everywhere that those we serve happen to be & to enourage the heart.


Dr. Michael Stephens is an Assistant Professor in the School of Library and Information Science at San Jose State University.  His research focuses on use of emerging technologies in libraries and technology learning programs.  He currently writes the monthly column “Office Hours” in Library Journal exploring issues, ideas and emerging trends in library and information science education.  Stephens has spoken about emerging technologies, innovation, and libraries to national and international audiences. He is fascinated by library buildings and virtual spaces that center around users, participation, creating content, and encouraging the heart. Michael’s Tame the Web blog is here:

Posted in YLibrary | 2 Comments


  1. Loving the always-in-beta librarian
    I think it will be a while before we change the concept of libraries being a “book warehouse” however the more libraries talk about what they do the more likely we can change perceptions.
    Great article, thanks Michael

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The role of libraries in the future by Ellen Forsyth

Thinking about the role of libraries in the future means thinking both about a location based library (a building) and a library which is also wherever you are (because you can access it online or in many places).  Library services are a combination of these elements.  A good library building is important and so is impressive mobile access to library collections, services and skilled staff.  A library can potentially be wherever any of us are if we can access the services, collections and staff expertise of the library in a similar way to which we can when we are in the library building.  With all planning about libraries for the future we need to think about how people not in the library can have an exciting and interactive experience.

Library buildings are still critical as there are many things which are best done in these spaces, and they bring a broad range of the community together..

Perhaps local studies information will be made available in location specific ways.  You should be able to find out continually updated or changing information about a place.  You may be prompted to explore different newspaper articles from the national newspaper database on Trove.  An example of this could be visiting in an historic main street (or the one where you live), and being able to easily find out information about the people who had businesses there in the past, where more information exists.  It could be linking to a search in the library catalogue to see if local studies information exists, or a history of the area for some of the more famous residents or for anyone who has information in a digitised newspaper.  It could be that there are triggers based on each address giving you basic information about that place, or even photographs from different times to help people think about their community, or where they are visiting.  It should also be possible to stand in the main street, contact the library and find out about the area.  This raises the question of how do you know how to contact the library?  That is the interesting question.  It could be promotional signs, there could be a QR code.  There are lots of options.  Do library staff take their skills outside the library with community reference?  This could be library staff providing their skills to local community groups, helping them with research.

Think about it, from the main street of your town or suburb, how do you know to contact the library for information about the area you are in?  It may be possible if the library is there, but how else? What are the options when the library is shut?  Is there a prompt to find out about digitised oral histories of community members?  Is it easy to find the scanned subdivision plans or maps for the area you are standing in?  Is it easy to see them on your mobile device?  Are they raw data or connected in a story? Is the local library or council helpfully providing free wifi so you can see these detailed maps and images with no data charges?

A couple of years ago a grocery shop ran a promotion with banners which you could scan for online shopping.  They made me realise that I had not seen similar banners for libraries.  It would be lovely to be walking down the street and be told that I could contact my library, from wherever I am, to find out more information from skilled staff.   Or maybe I could find out more about some local images which were on display in the street, or watch a video which would help me connect better with this community.  I may even be able to download an ebook.  I would suggest reading the recent Ylibrary post by Eli Neiburger  for some of the complexity of this area.

Libraries are about stories.  Some of the stories are real, and some are not.  The stories are all through the collections and services, and the skilled staff help expose them.  When I am looking to use a library the big question is how can I access the stories?  This is followed by how can I find out the stories behind the stories?  These questions show the importance of the combination of skilled staff, services and collections, and are vital for planning for future libraries.  The stories may be about the past, or derived from past.  They could be a game made using a library maker space which helps tell the history of the area.  It could be an art work made from out of copyright, or creative commons licensed images from the library collection.  It could be research about a local sporting group which was compiled after training session run by the library and using a mix of library and other resources.

This leads on to how can people access the content which has been created as a result of library interactions.  Did the library collect a copy for the community?  It could be research about the community (a street, a house history, a sporting group), the research could be a novel, a game, an art work, a building (in which case photographs rather than a copy of the building, although there could be a 3D printed model).  In the future it would be lovely for libraries to collect this diversity of material derived from their collections.  This connects to some of the ideas of sharing raised by Eli Neiburger.

Tim Sherratt, in his recent presentation From portals to platforms: building new frameworks for user engagement  demonstrates the value of libraries working together and making their content available – but also shows examples of how people are using some of the amazing Trove resources.  This is the telling stories about people sharing the results of their research.

The twitter reading group which is run collaboratively by libraries across NSW, and with partner libraries in other locations including Townsville, also demonstrates the importance of collaboration now and in the future.  You can participate in the reading group by adding #rwpchat to your tweets.  There are different themes each month, and there are lots of ways to participate you don’t have to tweet. This highlights a long standing trend which will grow further in the future of libraries collaborating to provide services for clients, using whatever tools are most appropriate.

Appaloosa Library

Appaloosa Library

When thinking about library buildings for the future it is important to really think about the future.  Any planning needs to be able to include changes in how the space is used in the future.  More people are visiting libraries for longer, and this needs to be taken into account in the design.  There are some libraries which communities find exciting being designed around the world.  For example Desert Broom Library and Appaloosa Library, both in Arizona show smart use of outdoor shaded areas in hot climates as well as many other features to help their communities learn, relax, discover, share and enjoy.  The new Birmingham Library shows thoughtfulness about local studies and the many ways the community can engage with collections, services and skilled staff.  Looking at the Birmingham Library website also highlights that all the elements need to be working together, as they are demonstrating with effective online and in library services.

Trees and columns - Desert Broom Library

People places, a State Library of NSW publication provides some helpful advice for thinking about library buildings.

Make sure you add your ideas to the mix by adding your comments to this post or via social media and using the Ylibrary hashtag (#ylibrary).

Follow Ellen on Twitter @ellenforsyth

YLibrary? Embracing Open Data: The Library’s Role as Digital Curator by Rachel Cobcroft

In May 2011, Europe faced a significant health crisis: a deadly outbreak of the bacteria E.coli had emerged from an unknown food source, affecting 4000 people, and killing 53. Researchers turned to the broader scientific community for help: releasing details of the sequenced bacterial genome via Twitter[i] and sharing publicly accessible sequence data via the NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information) database.[ii] Within 24 hours, international teams were uploading analyses and annotations to the open data repository GitHub,[iii] and within days, possible ancestral strains were being identified. At record speed, scientists were able to pinpoint the source of the contamination, allowing authorities to isolate the farms in question, and to declare the outbreak over by the end of July.[iv]

Such collaboration was enabled by the open licensing of the genomic data under the ‘no rights reserved’ CC0 licence.[v] This licence, released by Creative Commons,[vi] enables copyright holders to waive their rights to materials, placing them as completely as possible in the public domain. This allows scientists, educators, artists, and other creators to build upon, enhance, and reuse these materials for any purpose, without restriction under copyright or database law.

Open data’ is data ‘that can be freely used, reused and redistributed by anyone – subject only, at most, to the requirement to attribute and sharealike.’[vii] According to the Open Knowledge Foundation, open data’s key features are:[viii]

  •  Availability and Access: data must be available as a whole, and at no more than reasonable reproduction cost, preferably over the Internet. It must be in convenient and modifiable form;
  • Reuse and Redistribution: data must be made available under terms that permit reuse and redistribution, including intermixing with other datasets. It must be machine-readable;
  • Universal Participation: data must be available to everyone to use, reuse, and redistribute. There must be no restrictions against persons or groups, or against commercial interests, for example.

The many benefits of open data for both the institution and the community include greater accessibility, collaboration and innovation, greater transparency and accountability, and greater responsiveness of institutions to changing conditions, including emergency scenarios such as the above.[ix]

As individuals and institutions face increasingly complex computational challenges and grapple with exponentially increasingly amounts of data, there is an urgent need to establish frameworks to support open data distribution, use, and reuse. It is here that the library of the 21st century plays a critical role – that of digital curator.

What is Digital Curation? Why Does It Matter?

The UK’s Digital Curation Centre (DCC) defines this essential research activity as follows:[x]

‘Digital curation involves maintaining, preserving, and adding value to digital research data throughout its lifecycle.’

Through its education and oversight of the various stages of the digital curation lifecycle,[xi] depicted using the DCC model below, the library can ensure that data is appropriately captured, described, stored and secured, appraised and preserved, and disposed of, according to relevant policies, procedures, and legal requirements. Such frameworks will ensure that meaningful data is preserved for others to access, use, share, and re-use in both the short and long term.

Digital Curation

The Digital Curation Centre’s Digital Curation Lifecycle Model[xii]

Digital curation processes also play a crucial role in guaranteeing that data is accurate, authentic, and has integrity; i.e., it is what is says it is, and has not been added to, deleted, or otherwise modified since creation. This is fundamental in many fields, and forms the very foundation of scientific endeavour. By its insistence on internationally recognised information standards, the library ensures that both the value and veracity of data can be established on an ongoing basis.

Embracing ‘Intelligent Openness’

Worldwide, scientific institutions such as the Royal Society have called for ‘intelligent openness,’[xiii] in which data and its associated metadata (‘data about data,’ which enables its retrieval, management, and use)[xiv] must be accessible, intelligible, assessable, and re-usable.

Here, the library plays an integral role in achieving intelligent openness – by encouraging owners of data to engage in the following steps, defined by the Open Knowledge Foundation:[xv]

  •  Make your data available: in bulk and in a useful format;
  • Make it discoverable: put it on the web with its associated metadata;
  • Apply an open licence to your datasets.[xvi]

In this way, with the help of the library, we will be free to use, reuse, and redistribute data in all its forms.


[i] Wiles, S. (2011). An outbreak of crowdsourcing, Sciblogs. Retrieved October 1, 2013, from The genome was originally sequenced by BGI and the University Medical Centre Hamburg-Eppendorf.

[ii] NCBI. (2011). Sequencing for E.coli. Retrieved October 1, 2013, from

[iii] GitHub. (2011). E. coli O104:H4 Genome Analysis Crowdsourcing. Retrieved October 1, 2013, from

[iv] Edmunds, S. (2011). Notes from an E. coli “tweenome” – lessons learned from our first data DOI, GigaScience. Retrieved October 1, 2013, from

[v] Creative Commons. (n.d.) About CC0 – “No Rights Reserved”. Retrieved October 1, 2013, from See also Creative Commons. (n.d.). CC0 FAQ. Retrieved October 1, 2013, from

[vi] Creative Commons,

[vii] Open Knowledge Foundation. (n.d.). Open Definition. Retrieved October 1, 2013, from An open licence may require that users of the data to credit the owner of the dataset (‘attribution’), or that users who mix the data with other data must also release the results under an identical licence (‘share-alike’). For more information regarding open licence terms, see Creative Commons Australia. (n.d.). About the licences. Retrieved October 1, 2013, from

[viii] Open Knowledge Foundation. (n.d.). Open Data. Retrieved October 1, 2013, from

[ix] See, for example, Open Knowledge Foundation. (2012). Why Open Data? Open Data Handbook. Retrieved October 1, 2013, from

[x] Digital Curation Centre. (2013). What is digital curation? Retrieved October 1, 2013, from

[xi] Digital Curation Centre. (2013). DCC Curation Lifecycle Model. Retrieved October 1, 2013, from

[xii] Ibid.

[xiii]  The Royal Society. (2012). Science as an open enterprise. Retrieved October 1, 2013, from

[xiv] For more information about metadata, see National Information Standards Organization (NISO). (2004). Understanding Metadata. Retrieved October 1, 2013, from

[xv] Open Knowledge Foundation. (2013). Open Data – An Introduction. Retrieved October 1, 2013, from

[xvi] For more information on appropriate data licences, see Open Knowledge Foundation. (n.d.). Making Your Data Open: A Guide. Retrieved October 1, 2013, from and Open Knowledge Foundation. (n.d.). Guide to Open Data Licensing. Retrieved October 1, 2013, from

Posted in Uncategorized, YLibrary | 2 Comments


  1. I agree that the library should be the centre of the community, and that access to knowledge is critical for children’s education. I sympathise that closures in Oakland may have affected your branch. It’s impressive how organised the campaign is, with a popular Facebook presence! I note that you contributed your story to the campaign also (, which now appears to have saved the library for the 2013-15 period! Great news!
    The digital library is one aspect of a library service. In fact, ensuring that materials are licensed openly means that they will exist for a long time – they can be shared easily, and they can be kept in multiple locations, and adapted to multiple devices. They can even be translated into many languages! Moreover, materials which are ‘free’ in both cost and licensing mean that there are as few impediments to access as possible – ensuring that people can enjoy them both now and into the future.

  2. My son and I attend our local lbairry (the Dimond branch) almost every week to check out new children’s books that we read together. From what I have read on the site, our branch will be one of only four left if the proposed A Scenario happens and will be reduced to being open only 3 days a week. Once this happens our lbairry will become increasingly overcrowded and books will become less available as we have to cope with the traffic that will be redirected our way from the closure of the other 14 branches. I am trying to foster a love of reading and learning in my son, but to do that I need the resources of my local lbairry which provides me and him with an endless supply of books. If multiple branches close, it will make it so much more difficult for not only my son, but other children in Oakland to have access to these valuable tools. I am one of the few people who probably uses the lbairry the least, there are many others who depend on it for internet use, study space, and research material. Libraries are for many children one of the only places where they can access such an infinite amount of knowledge. Lets not take this away from the generations to come.

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YLibrary will be different

As the Internet continues to cause mayhem for the publishing industries, it appears reasonable that libraries would be all but forgotten by people who can access the information and literature that they want with a computer. However studies indicate that 67% of tech-savvy 16 to 29 year olds are using libraries regularly. Although not borrowing as many books as they once did, they are still relying on the library to keep its doors open.

The Annoyed Librarian’s blog post “The library’s ending again”, states that the internet has superseded the reputation of libraries as a repository for knowledge. Digital resources provide access to endless masses of information, virtually untethered to tangible repositories, and digital distribution has superseded the function of a library as a central hub for books.

Interior view of Stockholm Public Library

Interior view of Stockholm Public Library

Ryan Perry’s blog post “The End of Libraries? Not so Fast, MG Siegler”, feels that the library full of shelves of books is a nostalgic vision of a place that no longer seems relevant and that that sort of library has been slowly receding for quite some time, as computers and online resources have superseded physical volumes. He states that rather than ending libraries, the internet makes many new services possible. Libraries increasingly offer technology support and training to an inclusive community and their computers are well used by the community.

Eli Neiburger of the Ann Arbor District Library believes that libraries should be changing their focus to assist content creators earn a better living from their writing and states that “the future of libraries will be determined by what they make, not what they buy”.

Art Brodsky on the position of libraries in the age of digital books writes:
“Imagine walking into a library or bookstore and needing three or four pairs of different glasses to read different books manufactured to specific viewing equipment. Or buying a book and then having to arbitrarily destroy it after say, two weeks. That’s just nuts. But it’s the current situation we’re in with ebooks.” He is implying that Google, Amazon, Apple and others now have their own e-book stores which sell items only compatible on particular devices or within certain applications.

Library of Birmingham

Library of Birmingham

Spaces currently known as libraries may live on as cultural and learning centres. Libraries may co-locate the physical space with tourism, consumer and community advice centres, adult learning or museums. Others may live on as technology hubs such as BiblioTech Bexar County Digital Library (the first bookless library), makerspaces and fablabs with equipment including tablets, Kindles, Nooks, 3D printers, and laser and vinyl cutters.

The library of the future will be different. What do you think? Will increased access to information be the demise of libraries? Do libraries have a future? If so, what will it look like? If not, what will be their end? Be a part of the conversation in the comment section below.

Posted in YLibrary | 2 Comments


  1. The library of the future will be different, but still be recognisable as the library of today. With our climate changing, we have seen an uprise of stronger cyclones, and we break the temperature records each year. Our climate plays havoc with our infrastructure. Internet, telephone and loss of power-supply are regularly recurring events, especially in rural remote locations. As we will never be able to solely rely on electronics, we will never solely offer electronic services. Not only library staff need to be kept up to date, so do the libraries’ patrons. There is an increasing need to offer regular workshops, run for and by librarians and their patrons, on the latest fads, to keep library patrons using the libraries and its services.

    • Thanks Karien, you make some very valid points. A significant proportion of Queensland’s population lives in regional, rural and remote areas. Although there has been an increase in the percentage of people in these locations who have access to computers at home and the percentage of people with access to the Internet has more than doubled since 1998, internet use has yet to reach the level of use in capital cities.

      With their existing infrastructure, committed staff, and mission to connect individuals to information, libraries are uniquely suited to offering public Internet access and training to people who would otherwise be left behind in the digital world. By reinventing themselves and embracing an expanded role as online information centers, the impact on individuals and communities could be significant.

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