[okfn-discuss] The 'next library'

Sara Wingate Gray sara.gray at okfn.org
Fri May 20 00:04:31 BST 2011

This post has been (of course) causing a lot of controversy in the libr* world:




What's interesting to me is that most of these "what is going on with libraries anyway?" posts don't necessarily mention the 'future library' missions that are actually occurring *right now*. 

San Francisco PL is the world's first public library with a social worker. http://therumpus.net/2011/05/meanwhile-the-san-francisco-public-library/

The "unlibrary" of If:Book is reaching out to explore what 'other' missions a PL could pursue.

SFPL is also about to launch what I'm going to call an "embedded librarian" or "embedded library" *in* the city, modelled on what my Itinerant Poetry Library has been doing (albeit without them realising).

It's exciting. But it needs to be comprehensively advocated for. 

I'm aware that one of my fellow UCL bods was trying to put together something in September to which JISC, BL, and others were supposed to be invited to talk about such things,  but I have this feeling that none of these types of thoughts might even be part of that.

I would *love* to have a roundtable discussion, like Mashed Libraries, that gets people together talking about what 'next library' would include, and then we GO AND MAKE IT as a one off experiment space and take it from there.

Who's in?

On 19 May 2011, at 14:10, Jonathan Gray wrote:

> Nicely put:
> http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2011/05/the-future-of-the-library.html
> A sneak preview:
> "There are one thousand things that could be done in a place like
> this, all built around one mission: take the world of data, combine it
> with the people in this community and create value. We need librarians
> more than we ever did. What we don't need are mere clerks who guard
> dead paper. Librarians are too important to be a dwindling voice in
> our culture. For the right librarian, this is the chance of a
> lifetime."
> The 'next library' sounds like a fun place to be. I think we should
> try and make one. (Maybe in Berlin?) ;-)
> (Chris: cc'ing you as this reminded me of your favourite Heinlein quote! [1])
> J.
> [1] "The greatest crisis facing us is not Russia, not the Atom Bomb,
> not corruption in government, not encroaching hunger, nor the morals
> of the young. It is a crisis in the organization and accessibility of
> human knowledge. We own an enormous "encyclopedia" - which isn't even
> arranged alphabetically. Our "file cards" are spilled on the floor,
> nor were they ever in order. The answers we want may be buried
> somewhere in the heap, but it might take a lifetime to locate two
> already known facts, place them side by side and derive a third fact,
> the one we urgently need. Call it the crisis of the Librarian. We need
> a new "specialist" who is not a specialist, but a synthesist. We need
> a new science to be a perfect secretary to all other sciences." -
> Robert A. Heinlein, 1950.
> -- 
> Jonathan Gray
> Community Coordinator
> The Open Knowledge Foundation
> http://blog.okfn.org
> http://twitter.com/jwyg
> http://identi.ca/jwyg
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