At the PNWA conference I attended the panel, “Digital Publishing is Creating Agents of Change”, presented by April Eberhardt, Laurie McLean, Jim McCarthy and Kathleen Ortiz. They discussed the new things agents are doing with e-books, apps, and trans-media publishing. One of the topics that came up was the e-book and what role it plays in the library systems.
I was surprised to learn that not all libraries have integrated the e-book into their programs; it is dependent on the county system. The King County Library System does have this option available for people who want to check out books in e-format, and they have offered this for a few years now. The e-book has a “shelf life” of several weeks, and then it disappears after the time allotment is used. I think this is a great concept, as it lends itself to the rapidly changing environment of e-books vs. traditional hardcopy books.
It made me wonder about the layout of libraries in the future. How will they be different than they are now? I imagine that there might still be shelves of books to browse, but maybe those books will be for display only, and they will need to be uploaded onto e-readers if someone wants to check them out. Or maybe there will be no hardcopy books at all (a sad thought) and all browsing will be done via computer screens. While I embrace the new era of e-books and understand that change is necessary, I do hope that childrens’ picture books remain the tactile experience they’ve always been. There’s something magical that takes place when a child holds a book in their hand and turns the pages, unfolding a story for the first time.
What do you think the library of the future will be like? Will they be more of a social gathering place, with the emphasis on even more readily available stations to conduct internet research and e-book uploads? Will hardcopy books go the way of the newspaper? It’s all happening so fast, and it’s all happening now. How do you envision it?