Archive for September, 2010

Books, Books and Ebooks – Library Space Planning

When books were developed by Dutch printers in 1471 they transformed Medieval Life by enabling the distribution of information. Now, consider when paperback books transformed life in the 1960’s and the first penguin books arrived. They were a great invention for the public and much easier to handle while traveling. They were durable and portable for kids to use. They also lowered the cost of literacy so that anyone could have a copy of a best seller or a classic if they wanted.

We are at the edge of a transformation in learning technology and the space requirements to support it. The ebook reader has arrived with a user interface that adds tools to the experience; highlighting, wireless sharing and new requirements for library space. The experience is still at its infancy and only a portion of the population has made the conversion. However, just take a look around at the airport. Many people still use books, but others are already on the hyper-literacy highway. They are traveling at breakneck speeds with new apps designed by developers to enhance the experience.

The ebook is a technology that can bring the book alive. Just look at the additional tools placed on the IPAD. Its ability to be a dynamic wi-if computer or read maps, make notes, play games and puzzles. In the future, there will be more integration with the spatial environment too. For example, library spaces can incorporate (QR) codes, barcodes that, when you take a photo of them with your smartphone, will take you out of the book or item to different websites. It will literally show you additional examples of research or reading on the subject.

Reading is a text based skill and it’s not going away anytime soon. In fact, in most cases a book would work better then a web site. However, publishers need to develop new ways to get readers to buy their books. They need to sell paperback books at a low price, but the real profit will be when they don’t have to spend any natural resources to make the product. When its digital. Paperback books are an inexpensive way to sell information. However, we need to realize that the momentum is being generated by technology companies and publishers that are trying to create new and repeat customer.

For these reasons, we have to focus on the library as a space for books both print and digital. We know the ebook will arrive in greater numbers. That is why we are confident that flexible spaces for leaning needs are available for both. From a collection point of view, we need to make sure we have a repository that supports learning for the long term. However, we can not let the past drive the future of reading and learning. The technology has been let out of the box on a large scale.

To explain how the ebook experience will change the future library we need to continue to read this story. When we see people going from just reading a story into an exploration of a multitude tools and apps that enable sharing we know that library space needs to change. We know that it needs to reflect a new customer, armed with a portal of knowledge under their arm.

The library’s space will be design to allow the users to explore both the individual experiences and collaborative learning. It will be a place that allows you to immerse yourself in a book, but which one will it be? How will this new form of reading to take place without book stacks? And how will this change our use of the library as place?

Further Reading:
Scholarly Information Practices in the Online Environment: Themes from the Literature and Implications for Library Service Development. Report commissioned by OCLC Research. Published online at: www.oclc.org/programs/publications/reports/2009-02.pdf

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