Huffington Post, 11 October 2012
Until recently, public libraries had little reason to innovate. Then Google arrived. More disruptive technologies followed, causing an identity crisis for librarians. Now the profession is re-thinking its purpose — a quest that lured a gathering of 350 eager librarians to Telluride, Colorado recently for the R-Squared (Risk and Reward) Conference.
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Americans need help navigating a way forward — whether it’s to find work or explore a new career path. It’s no wonder people are rediscovering their local libraries as a place to begin. That’s why libraries need to innovate. Otherwise, they risk becoming an object of nostalgia — the emotional step right before irrelevance. Deadly. Research shows that when taxpayers stop expecting public institutions to transform, they invite entrenchment. Consider the battle to reform public education in America. The same hollowing-out could happen to America’s public libraries at a time when we need them most.
There’s hope. It’s heartening to think that there are more public libraries than McDonald’s restaurants in America.
Imagine the impact of their re-animation.