What types of libraries can we envision 10, 20 and 50 years into the future? We have the luxury of being able to look back into the past, to what ACA was programming and designing 10, 20 and 40 years ago. We can do this by reviewing our library of library designs. For example in 2001, we started designing the information commons / self check out systems. In 2005, we were designing the learning commons, flexible classrooms and self check-in systems. In 1990, we were designing for automation, building large repositories of books (items). In the 1970’s, we were designing the traditional reading room and classrooms; timeless centers for study and collaboration.
A strong past is a good foundation from which to look into the future. In that spirit, we started dreaming what the library will look like in 10 and 20 years. Will the library have computers? Will there be books? What will happen to the service desk? Will there be robots in the library? If so, does that mean that the librarian will change?
When we worked on our first library RFID project in 2003 it looked like a new world for mobility. Certainly, options for self check out became possible. It was also possible for the librarian to check a book to see if it was re-shelved correctly. Today, many libraries use RIFD and many do not. The main reason is cost, but the real reason is the lack of a strategy to determine the benefits from using the technology. For many, the technology seems too much too fast. For those who have implemented them, they can’t remember when they didn’t have the technology humming along responding to library user needs.
The Digital Kingdom is a place that responds to the needs of the people who use the environment. It is a library that is built one community member at a time. It is a space where the patron brings their content with them. It is an environment that can associate and respond to you, depending on your preferences, activities and location.
In the future, the Digital Kingdom will allow patrons to share their social information connected through their smart phone. Patron’s would opt-in to preferences on how the library should respond (facebook) to information and share with them as much as they want. For others, the library will help cross the digital divide. Patron’s would opt-in to technology, connect and learn to use it in new ways. Digital literacy will continue to be the center piece of the libraries foundation.
For the private, the library will respond to make the space more comfortable. It will only provide information that you set up to share. Remember sometimes turning off is as good as turning everything on.
The technology of today provides opportunities to program, plan and design futurist environments. In “The Digital Kingdom“, the Disney Company plans to transform the loyalty bracelet into an RFID tool – MyMagic+. VIP experiences, lower wait times, more socializing and buying is driving the strategy. For example, Patron’s that opt-in will engage with characters that respond to your child with a personal greeting – like Happy Birthday. Disney will use the technology to enhance their legacy rides by layering new mobile and personal information into the customer experience.
From a library design perspective, Z-wave alliance is a place to start researching solutions. There are a number of products that will be used to create environments that respond to our needs. Most of the products easily track and control the temperature and humidity. Other products can be integrated with building systems to provide better energy efficiency.
The Digital Kingdom is a place where the environment recognizes you as a person. Let’s begin to make our libraries responsive to our needs.