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10 Experts Talk Library Positivity
by
Posted On November 6, 2018
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David Lee King

David Lee Kingdigital services director at Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library in Kansas (davidleeking.com)

What’s something that has re-energized you or kept you excited about librarians/libraries in the past year?

The ever-evolving world of library technology definitely keeps me excited about librarianship. The past few years have seen a lot of once-emerging technology start to slowly trickle into mainstream usage. The Internet of Things is turning library back-end support systems (like security cameras) into something our security staffers can interact with via a smartphone. Augmented reality and virtual reality technology is seeping into my library’s programs and events—both for kids and for adults. Those are just a couple of examples—there are many more.

How do you see librarianship/libraries evolving in the next few years?

I think in the next few years, libraries need to get serious and proactive about digital inclusion in their communities. In one way, libraries have always helped out with digital inclusion by teaching technology classes and offering connected computers in our buildings. I think libraries can do more than that. We need to be advocates for all people in our communities. We can do that by working toward adequate broadband coverage in our communities, by continuing to hold technology classes in our libraries and out in the community where those classes are most needed, and by working alongside other like-minded organizations that are working to help people get connected—whether that means broadband connectivity, access to inexpensive devices, or teaching classes on how best to use those tools.

What makes you feel hopeful about the future of libraries?

People need information, entertainment, and connectivity. They have questions; they are working on a variety of projects and research. Those things are basic needs for our communities, and they never really change—no matter how technology changes. And that’s awesome, because that’s what libraries do—we provide all those things to our communities. And we can do it in a safe environment, where learning and exploration are valued.


Steve Potash

Steve Potashfounder and CEO of OverDrive (overdrive.com)

What’s something that has re-energized you or kept you excited about librarians/libraries in the past year?

We are always excited to work with our librarian partners throughout the country. Working with them and listening to their and their patrons’ feedback helps OverDrive continue to innovate and serve their needs. Their input has been instrumental in the success of our new one-tap reading app, Libby (meet.libbyapp.com), as well as the development of an Instant Digital Card (resources.overdrive.com/library/apps-features/instant-digital-card). More than 30 markets now provide the ability to sign up for this Instant Digital Card in 30 seconds or less.

How do you see librarianship/libraries evolving in the next few years?

With the increasing challenges of finding the right information in an expanding universe of content, libraries and digital information specialists have become and will become even more valuable in helping guide us to curated, quality resources. Now more than ever, the librarian is the information professional that all readers should turn to for credible, reliable, and objective information.

What makes you feel hopeful about the future of libraries?

I feel hopeful because many librarians have adapted to be our communities’ first responders and evolved to overcome the challenges they face. More than ever, each community needs a strong, vibrant library with professional librarians. This is the domain of a librarian—to help at each stage of our life, family, and career to empower us with the right book, resource, or information and adopt lifetime learning and lifetime literacy.


Skip Prichard

Skip Prichardpresident and CEO of OCLC (oclc.org)

What’s something that has re-energized you or kept you excited about librarians/libraries in the past year?

I’m fortunate to have opportunities to visit libraries in all parts of the world to see firsthand how librarians are innovating to serve their users. I’m always excited and energized by the work they’re doing, whether they’re working in a large research institution or a small, rural library. When I visit libraries, almost without exception, I run into someone who has a personal story about finding something rare, delivering something valuable, or helping someone succeed. You may have heard the phrase “connecting but not connected.” We are connecting constantly through our devices, but are less connected to each other than ever before. Libraries sit at the intersection of personal and informational connection. It’s something that inspires me every day.

How do you see librarianship/libraries evolving in the next few years?

Even more than most industries, libraries are evolving to incorporate new information technology into everything they do. They have to—information is at the core of library work. Libraries also have to be ready to serve customers whose expectation of service is being shaped by digital giants like Amazon, Apple, and Google. Consumers expect immediate answers, speed of delivery, and accuracy. Libraries have to be able to deliver that. Librarians have to bridge the digital divide by being tech-savvy and community-minded. Libraries are becoming focused on both content and community in equal parts. Libraries and librarians must guard the historical record but embrace the technology- and service-driven future. Many that OCLC sees and serves are already well on their way.

What makes you feel hopeful about the future of libraries?

It seems that about every 2 years, someone at a major publication writes an opinion piece about the “end of libraries.” There are plenty of people who know nothing about libraries—who haven’t set foot in a library in years—but who somehow feel qualified to have a negative opinion about how they can be replaced by Amazon, Wikipedia, or Google. What makes me hopeful—every time this happens—is how universally, loudly, and passionately libraries are defended. And not just by librarians, but by people who understand the unique, trusted, inspirational roles that libraries play in our communities, schools, and universities. Hearing them sing the praises of libraries always makes me proud to be involved. I’m hopeful because I know that this vital community resource is already adapting to the future.


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Brandi Scardilli is the editor of NewsBreaks and Information Today.

Email Brandi Scardilli

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