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SWON News: Future of Libraries

“The Library in 2020” – Let’s Discuss (First of a multi-part post)

Friday, January 16, 2015   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Melanie Blau McDonald
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Public Library of Cincinnati Facilities Initiative logl

Hurst-Wahl, J. (2014). The Library in 2020. Collaborative Librarianship, 6(2). Retrieved 2015-01-12, fromhttp://collaborativelibrarianship.org/index.php/jocl/article/view/312/237

In her 2014 thought piece, Jill Hurst-Wahl, describes the library in the year 2020. She describes library as place, a “…crossroads in the community…” whether that community is a town, a university, a school or any organization. She describes the evolution of stacks to being part physical, part virtual. She describes the community needs being filled by a combination of technology and staff assistance. The library meets the needs they’ve assessed, and further, they continue to assess and evolve to meet their community’s needs. She describes a diverse community; diverse culturally, socially and economically. The library is “…a third place that is a combination of a coffee shop, post office and government office.”

I’ve seen all of this evolution in bits and small starts over a wide variety of libraries in our region of Southwest Ohio and Northern Kentucky. Each of the sixty or so libraries I’ve visited in the last two years has both a physical and virtual presence, even if that physical presence is the staff. The majority are helping patrons with various forms of e-government and provide a great cup of coffee too. As spaces are being reconfigured or buildings are getting much needed rehabbing, the idea of libraries as that third space are being made manifest. So, seeing what is happening right now in our region, means that none of these ideas seemed out of reach or beyond our capabilities.

What I found difficult was Ms. Hurst-Wahl’s discussion of the organization having a flat structure and that not only would all staff be “technology versatilists” but that each staff member would not have a specific role but would rather be part of “…a team where everyone has the ability to step in wherever needed.” Her reasoning here is that in order to provide the best service and flexibility, you need to be responsive and well, flexible.

Having been through more than one “self-managing team” program, I am leary. Has flat management truly come of age? Will it come of age in my working lifetime? What do you think?

~ Melanie

Photo credit: Image from the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County's website found at: http://www.cincinnatilibrary.org/info/construction/

They currently have three construction projects underway, namely the Clifton Branch, Reading Branch and St. Bernard Branch. All three projects are scheduled to be completed by the summer of 2015. For more information about these projects use the link above.


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