ND Libraries on the Future of Libraries (and Librarians)!

Recently, I stumbled upon a very insightful blog post written by marketing guru Seth Godin on the future of the library. In his post, Seth discusses the formative history of the modern library, and explains what social pressures and societal changes helped to foster its development. 

He highlights the major technological advances of our time – the meteoric rise of digital – and brilliantly weighs in on what direction librarians and libraries ought to take to keep themselves relevant, resilient and in-demand. It’s a great piece, and we encourage you to give it a read.

And since we work so closely with libraries all over the world, we decided that we’d like to chime in too on the future of libraries.

We couldn’t agree more with Mr. Godin.

It’s undeniable that things are changing rapidly, and that libraries need to keep up by offering more digital services. As Seth points out, the library is “no longer a warehouse for dead books.” Libraries should be a place where patrons can receive high-value information services like workshops, learning assistance and community and immigrant programs.

We’re very happy to see libraries embracing digital (much like how the New York Public Library has), and librarians are realizing that their roles are changing – and not for the worst! Rather than fearing a marginalization of their roles, many librarians are excited by the advent of Digital as it brings in a wave of new opportunities for librarians to increase their roles and become more relevant and more important in communities everywhere. As Seth points out, future librarians will be “producers, concierges, connectors, teachers and impresarios” of knowledge and data. People will turn to librarians for learning guidance.

The transformation of the library from “the stacks” to an energized community learning space is already underway. Libraries like the Richmond Public Library in Richmond British Columbia hold a significant role in the community. In 2010, they offered 2,477 programs, attended by an impressive tally of 106,053 people. With an estimated service population of 199,141, their gate count for 2010 was nearly two million. This is incredible.


Inside the National Digital Library of South Korea. Patrons come to the library to use their services, and also to socialize with others.

Libraries everywhere can benefit by strengthening their draw. Featuring various programs, workshops and having special learning tools will most certainly help. We here on ND Libraries have confidence in the sustainability of libraries, and every day we hear or see libraries renewing themselves as important and central institutions.

We’ve provided libraries all over the world with access to a tremendous wealth of world news, securing them as a receiving node in the enormous network of world news. Libraries in Singapore and Korea have realized the importance of this and have even created dedicated Library PressDisplay reading spaces for their patrons to consume the news, converse and socialize.

And as libraries continue to evolve, we stay committed to evolving with them.