Libraries as Place: Library: Physical or virtual?

Our next discussion topic is guest hosted by the Queensland University of Technology Information Studies Group with the team exploring the the topic of libraries as place.  Today’s post comes from Dr Elham Sayyad Abdi

Photo: 'click asi' by Amelia Wells CC-BY

Photo: ‘click asi’ by Amelia Wells CC-BY

Library is a place, a place for people meeting information they require. And we, as librarians, run this place.

But is library still a physical place to you? And I’m not talking about library collections only, but the whole of the place: library building, library staff and customers and of course, library collections and services. I’m talking about the place in which we, librarians, meet our people, listen to them, and help them with whatever information they are after.. And I’m talking about all types of services the library offer to its community..

With this respect, do you think library is still a physical building our customers should go to in person to access its holdings?

In this age of technology, with parts of our services delivered online, you may see us running a mix of a physical and virtual thing. Today delivering a service such as “chat with a librarian” takes parts of your library including library staff, customers and the service itself online. Or being in touch with your customers through different social media channels has become a different way of meeting your community!

As technology today is allowing us to run more and more services virtually, we might wonder whether it’s possible to, one day, run libraries online? And I mean fully online! What do you think? To what extent this library place could go virtual? Would there be any limitations for this transition? Are there any components of a library that could and should never become virtual? Share your thoughts with us.

Posted in Discussion topics, Round 2016B and tagged , , , , .

One Comment

  1. Thank you for posting the questions, Elham. I have a thought here:

    I think a libraries as a physical space is vital for the culture, community and society. At the moment, it’s a space people can learn, connect, share, create, have fun, spark ideas, get inspirations, ‘escape’, recover, be entertained, relax without paying a penny, enjoy and explore the latest technologies … What a valuable place for the civilisation and social development! I believe there will be more interesting things that the library can do in the physical space in the future.

    Current digital technology and devices make digital world an essential part of our life in most of the places in the world. So libraries run virtual services for their communities. We can now read, listen, learn, connect, create, share and be inspired … online. In the future, will people need to meet in a physical library? Will all people want to read online instead of using physical books? Would people feel lonely as they could only connect online? Would the digital divide make the unbalanced social status worse? If libraries were not doing something about the divide, would we need more expensive social support services? …

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