Phil Hall: starting now to imagine the library in 100 years

Does anyone remember the “old days”, not that many years ago, when there would be guys in a bar who used to make a bet with each other about some trivia question and then call the library to find the answer? Ever notice that those guys don’t call much anymore? Now that they have Google, Wikipedia, and a smartphone, they never think of calling the library. Are we no longer the ready-reference source of information for our communities?

At the same time, public libraries have always been the primary source of reading material for the recreational readers in our community and we have obsessively counted their every transaction; carefully noting the holds and circulation of bestsellers. And many public libraries have done the same with feature film videos and then DVD’s. Now, Netflix will send DVD’s into obsolescence and, perhaps e-readers will do the same to books.

When that happens, we have to be sure that we are still making a difference to the citizens of our towns. I have given two presentations this spring about envisioning the library one hundred years from now. My goal at Cycling For Libraries is to learn better ways to help my colleagues to envision a long-term future for their libraries, and to find the things they can start doing right now to reach that vision.

Phil Hall
Vancouver Public Library

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