Re-Think It: Libraries for a New Age was a three day conference that I attended recently at the Mary Idema Pew Library Learning and Information Commons at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids MI. Completed two years ago, this 150,000 sf LEED Platinum building was a real showpiece.
Much (though not all) of the program was aimed at academic libraries and academic librarians. I think we in public libraries have a lot to learn from the academy. Yes, they approach things differently: they are more cerebral, focused on research, pedagogy and process. But in many ways they are on a faster track than public libraries as far as digital technology and responsiveness to the future of information go. After all, one of their primary audiences is that 18-25 crowd that demands the latest and fastest.
The conference was much more theoretical and analytical that I am used to; public library events tend to be quite practical most of the time. I found myself really getting into the mindset though, and I learned a lot about ideas like Design Thinking and User Centered Design. I learned new words like “phygital” and GAFA [Google Amazon Facebook Apple]. Plus they have a Dematic materials retrieval system with two giant yellow cranes named Wall-E and Eve. Not everything is pedantic.
I must say it heartened me to see a short range of popular fiction – yes, in print format – in the café area of the library. Even with all of the maker technology and collaborative social spaces, there is still the demand for that Harlan Coben thriller in hardcover.
Look for more about some of these ideas in future posts, and if you’d like to see some photos of the library, go to my Pinterest board.
This post was written by Lauren Stara on August 19, 2015