Faced with the "predicted 375 local library closures set to take hold across the UK," Ingenta CEO George Lossius has penned a piece in the Information World Review asking readers to consider the role of the modern library, its importance to both community and culture, and how the institution might evolve to continue its work in a more austere age.
On the role of the modern library:
The library’s role now extends far beyond the walls of the building it occupies. It is now a repository and access point, where information can be extracted across multiple formats from a vast array of different sources. Instead of spending hours browsing through aisles upon aisles of physical books, people can now get the content they need with a few clicks of a mouse at a workstation within the library or by accessing a library portal from the comfort of their home. Technology has enabled the whole search and acquisition process to become more hassle-free and less time-consuming for customers and what’s more, the migration of content to e-book format means that libraries can now produce substantial revenues without having to stock physical books.
Behind the motto "Evolution yes, closure no," Lossius makes the case for a leaner, more streamlined library that would help save costs and prevent outright closures:
The modern library does not need to be housed in a large building. The recent advances in technology and publishing mean that a great deal of library real estate across the country can be divested successfully without having to close these institutions down completely. The government can take advantage of these developments to save money by downsizing and keeping talented librarians in work as opposed to the widespread cuts which have been proposed.
Local authorities need to find a happy medium which allows library services to continue to play a vital role at the heart of the community, as opposed to taking an aggressive broad brush approach and enforcing widespread closures. If all the library of the future consists of is a dozen computer workstations and a help or service desk, rather like an internet café, at least the essential services that these institutions and their personnel provide will remain.
Read the full article here.