The future of libraries. The end of the library as we know it

Recently I visited the largest national Library congres in the Netherlands. The new chairman of the Dutch Federation of professional librarians, Michael Wesseling pointed out that we have moved from an era where access to information was scarce to an era where information is abundantly present. Libraries have to move from gathering information just in case to providing information just in time. The library has an advantage over Google in pointing people to relevant information since libraries are organisations that have a reputation of transparency. Google relies on PageRank, google's best kept secret.

Even though I think he is absolutely right, I am convinced that leading people to relevant information is not the future role of libraries. Libraries, especially scholarly libraries, can teach people information literacy, but we have to stop thinking that libraries are the leading organisations in helping people find the information they need in a global environment.
I think libraries have to change their view of the world 180 degrees. Libraries should no longer aim to be the portal to the world of information for a local audience. Libraries should try to be the portal to local information for a global audience.

A university and research library should focus on making the local production of research output known to the world. This change is already taking place at these institutions. University libraries are quite often involved in organizing local repositories of publications More and more are active in supporting their users with research data repositories. Some university libraries, like ours, are even involved in unlocking research project information and research staff ans skills.
Our most recent involvement concerns the indexing of local data by using Solr an ManifoldCF to create a university enterprise search solution.

This approach may seem obvious for University libraries, but what about National and Public libraries ? The Koninklijke Bibliotheek was very successful digitizing their vast collection of Dutch newspapers. Unlocking their unique collections to the world should be a very important goal for National libraries.
Public libraries might put some effort in informing 'the world' about local activities. And wouldn't it be nice if public libraries would get involved in unlocking all these badly indexed resources of local governmental bodies ?


Anonymous said...


This is a question for the webmaster/admin here at webquery.blogspot.com.

May I use part of the information from this post above if I give a backlink back to your website?


Peter van Boheemen said...

Of course you may link. Could you tell me wehere from ?

School Librarian said...

I enjoyed reading this post. I hope to see more information, such as this, on your blog in the future! KP, North Carolina, US