When reading the exquisite book ‘Bellwether’ by Connie Willis, I realized my favourite spot in town could be run down very quickly. Sandra Foster, the main character, an academic researcher on fads and trends in society, goes daily to the public library. Apart of taking out the books she really needs, she strategically tries to ‘rescue’ the classics. Books that haven’t been taken out for six months, are taken off the shelves and sold. She keeps track of the files and takes out systematically the complete works of Dickens, of Brönte, etc.
Even the Simpsons make comments on the actual and future state of libraries:
Lisa: I have to research a paper. Where did all the books go?
Librarian: Books? Books are for squares! We’re now a multimedia learning center for children of all ages… but mostly bums. (motions to a table full of bums — and Homer — sleeping).
Bart: Aye, Carumba!
Lisa: (looking at the few materials left) “Everybody Poops: The Video”??? “Yu-Gi-Oh! Price Guides”???
Surfing on the net to have a look into the ‘electronic literature’, there is no way I can find the so called ‘first classic works’ in electronic literature (canon works extremely fast) without having to buy them (25$ each). It would be nice to know people are thinking about public libraries for virtual products, places with an organised/historical/specialized collection where you can ‘borrow’ freely 13 items for 3 weeks.
In 2006 the public libraries of the Netherlands collaborated with the Design Academy (Eindhoven) to think about libraries in 2040. They published a book (What if/Het boek, Biblion Uitgeverij, 2007) that you cannot consult on their website. You can have a look at the student’s films, of which some ideas are great. Three of the four films are based on the exciting ideas of freely ‘sharing’ content and information in ‘context’, like for example sharing, uploading and downloading books when you are on public transport.