My Vision of the Library of the Future

By: Clark Swanson

I see it in my mind’s eye, just as clear as day, a library—not the library you know, but something altogether different.

It appears there aren’t books on shelves—only those you’ll find on your mobile device available for download 24/7, providing access to information all hours and days of the week.

Precious real estate turns into technology featured spaces with Librarians that have specialized skills in copyrights, patents, and trademarks. Mostly, you will see technologists—not those that could tell you about the inner workings of a personal computer, but those that concern themselves with CAD systems (computer-aided design).

This library includes three odd-looking spaces, a cross between a meeting room and a sound stage. From here, customers hold live video conferences with collaborators from around the world. In addition, these spaces will allow customers to produce audio and video productions. You will also see a number of smaller meeting spaces, each complete with cameras and audio.

You’ll see computer screens, but they’re devoted to CAD systems and software that translate CAD-based designs to 3D printers, the library’s centerpiece, not social networking. These printers, which literally create three-dimensional objects using ink-jet printing technology, allow people who could never before make or manufacture anything enter the global economy.

My library of the future serves as the cradle of a revolution that allows individuals with virtually no formal education to become titans of industry.

Sound impossible? It’s not. It could happen tomorrow. The technology exists today. But more to the point, this is the path Andrew Carnegie lived and embodied in the libraries he built.

A bit of savvy and the right tools can get you a long way in this world. While libraries can do little about the former, they can the latter. At least my library does.

©OrangeBoy, Inc. 2012

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