Why Libraries Will Shape the Future

Why Libraries’ Survival Matters

They Offer the Kind of Space the Internet Never Will

The internet as we know has been around for over 25 years, but we’re only beginning to grapple with how it is fundamentally changing our daily lives. More than society being “disrupted,” some cultural hallmarks—handwritten letters, record stores, newspapers—already seem to be quaint artifacts of the way we were. At first glance, libraries, too, seem destined for the dustbin of history, unable to compete with the convenience of accessing books, expertise, and media instantly on any portable smart device.

Of course, as we argue in our inquiry, Why Libraries Will Shape the Future, the purpose of libraries and librarians—to disseminate information—is more relevant than ever in the internet age. But what of the physical spaces, which Mark Twain called “the most enduring of memorials, the trustiest monument for the preservation of an event or a name or an affection; for it, and it only, is respected by wars and revolutions, and survives them?” Will these institutions that once helped define communities still exist? And why should they? …


How Librarians Are Quietly Shaping Our Future

Information Professionals Are Making Their Mark All Over Silicon Valley

It’s one of countless sarcastic jokes about my profession that I’ve heard for years, each of them landing with all the comedic force of late-period Carrot Top props. If you search online for the combination “libraries” and “dead” you’ll find various articles proclaiming the same sentiment.

I get where this perception comes from. Google and Wikipedia can answer a lot of basic questions that we librarians used to tackle. Issues arising from unglamorous arguments over budgets or the government have also made times difficult for libraries, librarians, and other information professionals. But now that we’ve acknowledged those truths, it’s important to mention another: That librarians today influence the cutting edge more than ever before. We use our skills to bring pieces of the future to wherever you are. …


If You Think Libraries Are Redundant, Read This

More Than Strict Rules And Dusty Stacks, Libraries Build Community

Twenty-first century librarians do not wear their hair in buns. They don’t relish levying fines on forgetful patrons. They won’t scold you for bringing a cup of coffee into the building. And they’re just as comfortable (if not more so) talking about 3D printers and “maker spaces” as the state of their stacks.

At the Zócalo/WeHo Reads event “Do Libraries Have a Future?” on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the opening of the West Hollywood Library, three librarians were challenged by Zócalo Public Square publisher Gregory Rodriguez to shake off stereotypes and misconceptions about their professions—and predict what’s next for their places of work. …


The Future of Libraries Has Three Different Paths

From a Single, Globally Accessible Collection to Nonexistent, Imagining the Institutions in 2100

So what will libraries be like in 2100?

That’s not so very far away. The next time you see a tiny baby, bear in mind that she or …


By continuing to use our website, you agree to our privacy and cookie policy.

Get More Zócalo

No paywall. No ads. No partisan hacks. Ideas journalism with a head and a heart.

You may opt out or contact us anytime.