Week Nine

I don’t feel that ALA’s overview of trends influencing modern libraries misses anything important; throughout my coursework for the MLIS program, I’ve relied very heavily on ALA resources, documents, etc., and I’ve learned to trust their view of things! They delve into several trends I expected to encounter, including aging advances, connected learning, data everywhere, resilience (particularly in terms of its statements on economic and budgetary factors) digital natives and internet of things. These are issues I’ve encountered in many different courses, and I’ve witnessed and researched their impact on libraries thoroughly.

Although I don’t personally see any “missing pieces” in the ALA’s assessment of library trends, their analysis does present several issues that I have yet to touch on in my MLIS studies; I was particularly interested in the pages describing a “fast casual” approach and the importance of “unplugged” resources and environments.

“Fast casual” was interesting to me primarily in that it frightened me a little; envisioning a transformation of library service to an experience akin to a fast food restaurant – with its in-and-out style and unhealthy choices – was not an appealing idea at all. I value libraries as institutions of education and enlightenment, and don’t want to see them become sources of intellectual junk food. However, I can see how this approach could be retrofitted to library service in a positive way. Applying “fast casual” efforts to libraries is less about instituting an overabundance of low-quality information and rushing patrons in and out as quickly as possible, and more about encouraging patrons to view library visits as social environments and interact on a more active, experiential level.

“Unplugged” opportunities interested me because they appear to be antithetical to many of the concepts I’ve studied throughout my courses in the MLIS program. Discussion of the rapid pace of technological change has generally emphasized the importance of libraries “keeping up” by incorporating new technologies to attract and maintain an audience. I had never really given any thought to the opposite approach of instituting unplugged spaces to provide the opportunity for patrons to avoid cognitive overload and re-focus on what is important. ALA’s discussion of unplugged spaces got me thinking about the advantages of having quiet, device-free “sanctuaries”; Spaces, programs and services encouraging unplugged activities may provide patrons with much-needed opportunities to concentrate on work, studies or other tasks in a much deeper way, improving intellectual and educational growth.

American Library Association. (2015). Trends. Retrieved from: http://www.ala.org/transforminglibraries/future/trends.


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