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Why the Future of Libraries Looks Bright

02-07-2018 05:43 PM CET | Science & Education

Press release from: Formaspace

The Future of Libraries is Bright

The Future of Libraries is Bright

In a world where we can connect our smart phones and tablets to the information superhighway, what is the way forward for libraries? Will our local library be unable to compete with online books and close down like so many shuttered brick-and-mortar bookstores before it? Or will library designs evolve (and flourish) to meet the 21st Century needs of the communities they serve?

"What's dangerous is not to evolve."
– Jeff Bezos

Let's take a moment to let the words of Amazon* founder, Jeff Bezos, sink in: we have to evolve or die.

(*Full disclosure: Amazon is a long-time Formaspace customer.)

And librarians know it.

Acquiring, cataloging, and archiving printed materials for use by researchers, historians, writers, students, and teachers, as well as striving members of our local communities has been a core function of the world's libraries for centuries.

Yet, in internet time, change happens fast.

In just a few short years, nearly every published work has now become available at our fingertips – ranging from classic Greek plays and the collected works of Shakespeare to the newest medical reference journals and the headlines in today's newspapers.

As a result, today's librarians have had to come to terms with the existential question: what is the future of libraries when the focus has moved away from the printed word?

Top among New Library Trends: Librarians Teaching Information Literacy

Historically it's been the role of librarians to manage scarce resources and make them accessible to the communities they serve. But in many ways, today's librarians are facing the opposite problem: the inherent scarcity of printed books and periodicals has turned into a flood of information available directly from the internet. And this newfound abundance has created a new set of challenges for librarians.

For example, as we all know, not all online reference materials are reputable, e.g. based on solid facts supported by evidence. Yet many students writing their first term papers are ill-prepared to search online for trustworthy resources beyond what's available on Wikipedia.

That's where many librarians now see their new primary role: to step in and help teach Information Literacy to students, researchers, and the public at large, all of whom need help to become more adept at accessing and interpreting online information.

As a result, many librarians are now teaching new skills to their patrons, such as:

• How to access a variety of online databases to perform deeper searches.

• How to identify valid information sources, based on facts supported by empirical evidence.

• How to analyze and critique the available information resources found online and use them appropriately with proper referencing and without copywriting infringement.

Technology Is Transforming Library Designs from Static Book Repositories to Collaborative Learning Environments

Second among new library trends is a re-imagining of the physical library design itself.

In response to the lower demand for physical books and publication by users (who are increasingly accessing materials online), many libraries have begun to reduce the inventory of printed materials they keep in circulation.

As a result, floor space once dedicated to stacks of books is now available for new uses.

But what should these newly created vacant spaces be used for?

Many libraries are seizing on this opportunity to create new collaborative learning environments.

For example, officials at University of California at Berkeley have converted the top two floors of the Moffitt Library into an open, collaborative environment for learning (, kitted out with flexible furniture that can be moved around by students to create ad hoc study groups as well as glass walls that serve as high-tech whiteboards.

Sounds like a high-tech startup office doesn't it?

Not surprisingly, the library renovation was designed by Gensler, the San Francisco-based architect who's been responsible for creating work environments for many of the Bay Area's innovative startup software companies.

In creating collaborative learning environments, libraries are coming into alignment with the newest trends in office design that we've written about before, such as collaborative working methods favored by Millennials. (*

(*Millennials, and the generations that follow them, have been taught from an early age to work on projects in teams, making them much more comfortable working as members of a group, especially compared with their more "independent minded" Baby Boomer or Gen-X peers.)

Build It and They Will Come: The Rise of Maker Spaces in Library Facilities

Third among emerging library trends is the incorporation of creative Maker Spaces in libraries.* These Maker Space facilities allow patrons to use equipment to create their own projects, ranging from wearable electronics to walking robots.

(*For more information on how to design a Maker Space for your library, read our article Makerspace 101: Building a Makerspace for Library and Education Professionals. (

Some may argue Maker Spaces are beyond the scope (and budgets) of many local library systems.

Read more ...

Formaspace advances the spirit of discovery and creation through the design and manufacture of custom business furniture. Our furniture marries form to function with flexible solutions for clients in the laboratory, industrial, and office environments.

Formaspace serves over 80% of the Fortune 500, as well as universities, governments, small businesses, and individuals.

1100 E. Howard Lane, Suite 400
Austin, TX 78753


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