VALA2014 – Plenary 6 – Joe Murphy – Library as future

Idea of futures comes preloaded with the idea of what comes next.

Libraries have been getting ready and he sees libraries as having a secure future. The outside world has already changed the things we have done, we can only move on. Change is constant.

Do libraries have more future than past? Libraries will always have a reflection in the past, the touch points, like literacy and stories, that are continually unfolding. The only thing greater that our creativity is our curiosity. Our future relies on the fire that feeds our curiosity.

His hopes in his role at Innovative Interfaces is to help libraries to find their future. The future of libraries is the question of whether to engage in the story of our communities. There is a major trend of diffusion of information across libraries, we are sharing our expertise with all. Diffusion of expertise is happening at all levels. The discussion is ongoing and so important for the future.

Libraries are like canaries in coal mines, we are usually the first to react to changes and pressures in our communities. And it keeps coming back to change, that’s the only constant. We need to strategise on this as it is the only foreseeable reality. There is no map for the future.

The future library is the identifier and supporter of local moonshots. The long goals that create side benefits for communities. Libraries have always facilitated, but now we are expanding that role, by getting involved in entrepreneurialism and much more.

Single biggest trend to affect libraries in the next year will be the Internet of things. eg. Nest app to control your home thermostat and smoke alarm – just purchased by Google. Big purchases by big companies like Google are indicators of future trends.

New roles serve as bubbles of creativity. Four directions for libraries in 2014, not because of outside forces, but because we are amenable.

  • Libraries as change entities – both facilitating change and being the change – libraries as labs.
  • Being pivot engines, able to make quick changes, not with every fad but with every opportunity and pressure.
  • Partnerships as growth – with business, vendors, infrastructure – all different types of partnerships and across all different types of user engagement.
  • New platforms for libraries – not just being where the users are but where the data opportunities are eg. cars, TVs, wearables

Great opportunities to be a stakeholder here, in both these brand new platforms and through formerly passive platforms eg. XBox. Wearable technology is not a tangential fad, but a growing industry, eg. Google Glass. Our future here is whatever we make it.

Some future trends already showing where we are going: Chrome HDMI plug in makes our TV a community computer. Now accepting Bitcoin – being accepted by real estate, sporting facilities and more. It is becoming mainstream. It can be rooted in the physical world.

Mobile now – smart devices are quickly reaching its ultimate penetration rate. Mobile use has changed with messaging being the biggest thing in mobile last year, beating even gaming. Productivity was at number 2. Big addition to this is the ability to share photos.

Snap Chat has seen huge growth, but with businessmen as we as teens. Snapchat is photo bases, it’s all around the photo. When you open the app, it opens the camera, the caption and then the audience. It only lasts for 10 seconds. More trust in impermanence, the primary of privacy and photo as conversation.

Where does the shift for libraries have to happen. Stop excelling in past strengths. Google Helpouts – play a video to learn something and then add interactivity such as asking and having questions answered.

No need for change in content, so best to wait until the business models calm down a bit. It’s going to be important to retain print for PR – it’s a touch point, a connection to our past.

The most disruptive content technology is from old media – Aereo allows you to access tv content on any device, even if cable and you don’t have a subscription. (Only limited availability). Amazon Prime Air is really a PR campaign to show that they are an innovator who is playing in the big league. TV tag is about people curating experience, a trend seen most recently with Pinterest. Sharing is moving from Bump to things like Airdop (Apple) and Dropbox.

Able to identify and accept change should be our new job description. When looking at new tech, should be asking what opportunities does this bring? Don’t focus on what is our future, but on how we get there. If there is a choice of libraries or librarians, then the latter must survive.

Our most important ability is to wonder.