RISING TO THE CHALLENGE. Re-Envisioning Public Libraries

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1 RISING TO THE CHALLENGE Re-Envisining Public Libraries

2 RISING TO THE CHALLENGE Re-Envisining Public Libraries A reprt f the Aspen Institute Dialgue n Public Libraries by Amy K. Garmer Directr Aspen Institute Dialgue n Public Libraries The Aspen Institute Cmmunicatins and Sciety Prgram Octber 2014

3 This reprt emanates frm the Aspen Institute Cmmunicatins and Sciety Prgram. Unless attributed t a particular persn, nne f the cmments r ideas cntained in this reprt shuld be taken as embdying the views r carrying the endrsement f any individual participant in the Dialgue n Public Libraries r its wrking grup r the Bill & Melinda Gates Fundatin. The Aspen Institute Dialgue n Public Libraries invites yu t view the digital versin f this reprt at Share yur visin fr the future f public libraries n Twitter with hashtag #libraryvisin. Cpyright 2014 by The Aspen Institute The Aspen Institute One Dupnt Circle, NW Suite 700 Washingtn, DC Published in the United States f America in 2014 by The Aspen Institute All rights reserved Printed in the United States f America ISBN: Pub#: 14/016 PHOTOGRAPHY Cver pht (middle): Mike Faber with Fisheye Phtgraphy, curtesy f Cedar Rapids Library Executive Summary, (middle pht): Wayne Jhnsn with Main Street Studis, curtesy f Cedar Rapids Library This wrk is licensed under the Creative Cmmns Attributin- Nncmmercial 3.0 United States License. T view a cpy f this license visit r send a letter t Creative Cmmns, 171 Secnd Street, Suite 300, San Francisc, 94104, USA. Individuals are encuraged t cite this reprt and its cntents. In ding s, please include the fllwing attributin: Aspen Institute Dialgue n Public Libraries, Rising t the Challenge: Re-Envisining Public Libraries, Washingtn, D.C.: The Aspen Institute, Octber Executive Summary, (bttm pht): curtesy f BibliTech A prject f the Aspen Institute Cmmunicatins and Sciety Prgram in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Fundatin.

4 CONTENTS FOREWORD...iv ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS...vi EXECUTIVE SUMMARY... viii RISING TO THE CHALLENGE: RE-ENVISIONING PUBLIC LIBRARIES... 1 A NEW WORLD OF KNOWLEDGE... 2 A RENEWED VISION OF THE PUBLIC LIBRARY... 7 Peple, place and platfrm Scaling up: Envisining a natinal digital platfrm Creating gd cmmunity utcmes STRATEGIES FOR SUCCESS Aligning library services in supprt f cmmunity gals Prviding access t cntent in all frmats Ensuring lng-term sustainability fr public libraries Cultivating leadership CONCLUSION AND A CALL TO ACTION Getting Started: 15 Steps fr Library Leaders, Plicymakers and the Cmmunity NOTES AND REFERENCES APPENDIX The Dialgue n Public Libraries Wrking Grup Participants Frmal Advisrs t the Dialgue Infrmal Advisrs t the Dialgue Abut the Aspen Institute Dialgue n Public Libraries Abut the Aspen Institute Cmmunicatins and Sciety Prgram... 66

5 FOREWORD The time has cme fr a new visin f public libraries in the United States. Cmmunities need public libraries mre peple are visiting them and using their services, materials and prgrams than ever befre but cmmunities needs cntinue t change. While the public library was cnceived in an age f infrmatin scarcity, tday s netwrked wrld is ne f infrmatin abundance and mbility. The spread f pwerful digital infrmatin and cmmunicatin technlgies has tuched every aspect f daily life, creating new pprtunities. The Internet has becme the critical gateway fr accessing infrmatin, jb pprtunities, educatin, financial and gvernment services, healthcare resurces and civic participatin. Mrever, these technlgies present new pprtunities fr lcal and reginal entrepreneurs and cmmunities t cmpete, including at natinal and internatinal levels ecnmies f small thriving alngside ecnmies f scale. But this new wrld f infrmatin plenty creates new, essential skills, such as the ability t gain value frm infrmatin and prduce new knwledge. Access t digital netwrks and digital literacy skills are essential fr full participatin in mdern sciety. Ecnmic, educatinal, civic and scial pprtunities are tied t a whle new set f knwledge and skills that barely existed a generatin ag, and peple withut these skills r access t this infrmatin abundance are quickly left behind. Public libraries can be at the center f these changes: a trusted cmmunity resurce and an essential platfrm fr learning, creativity and innvatin in the cmmunity. Public libraries have the DNA needed t thrive in this new infrmatin-rich, knwledge-based sciety. Prviding access and cnnecting knwledge t the needs f individuals and the cmmunity have always been at the center f the missin and purpse f libraries. In fact, public libraries are already at the frefrnt f tackling scial inequalities by prviding access t nline infrmatin and supprting digital literacy. They prvide supprtive, creative learning spaces fr yung peple after schl. As a key strand in the scial safety net, public libraries prvide an imprtant lifeline t jbs, educatinal pprtunities, literacy, health resurces and gvernment and cmmunity services, especially fr immigrants and disadvantaged ppulatins. Public libraries are highly trusted institutins rted in the neighbrhds that they serve. Yet sme critics questin their cntinuing relevance in an age when infrmatin can flw via digital devices t virtually anyne, anywhere, at any time. Enabling all public libraries t fulfill their new rles will require cmmunity leaders, civic partners and librarians t share a new visin fr what libraries can be. T meet the needs f individuals, the cmmunity and the natin in the knwledge sciety, public libraries must be re-invented fr a netwrked wrld, in which the value f netwrks grws as mre cnnectins are made. Innvatins built n the ld distributed mdel f the lending library will nt suffice. What is needed is a new level f interdependence that cmmunities and libraries must embrace tgether. iv EXECUTIVE FOREWORDSUMMARY

6 ABOUT THIS REPORT The Aspen Institute Cmmunicatins and Sciety Prgram, in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Fundatin, created the Aspen Institute Dialgue n Public Libraries t help advance the wrk that public libraries are ding t address cmmunity challenges and t supprt the transfrmatin f cmmunities and their public libraries in the digital age. The Dialgue n Public Libraries is a multistakehlder frum that brings tgether library prfessinals, plicymakers, technlgy experts, philanthrpists, educatrs and civic leaders t explre, develp and champin new ways f thinking abut public libraries. The Dialgue s wrk is infrmed by a select 35-member wrking grup that met twice in the prject s first year t examine the evlving scietal rle f the public library, and t shape and advance a perspective that re-envisins U.S. public libraries fr the future. The Wrking Grup s discussins and individual cntributins helped shape the perspective n public libraries in the digital age that is presented in this reprt. We are indebted t them fr sharing their visin, knwledge and experience with the Dialgue n Public Libraries. The Dialgue s visin is als infrmed by a series f engagements and fcus grups with leaders frm key public library assciatins, including the Public Library Assciatin, the Assciatin f Rural and Small Libraries, the Chief Officers f State Library Agencies and the American Library Assciatin. We acknwledge and thank these library leaders fr their insights and supprt f the Dialgue s wrk. We hpe that this reprt will supprt the impactful wrk that libraries d fr their cmmunities and prvide a resurce fr engaging gvernment leaders, trustees and cmmunity partners in dialgue t advance cncrete actins fr transfrming public libraries. The Dialgue and, ultimately, this reprt explre the essential rle f public libraries in a netwrked wrld and begin t re-envisin the 21st century library in a hyper-cnnected envirnment and dramatically changing wrld. The reprt is intended t raise the prfile f public libraries t the center f the knwledge sciety, highlight the pprtunities and pssibilities, increase supprt fr an expanded library rle in a netwrked wrld and spark a natinal cnversatin and actin t re-envisin the 21st century library as a center f learning, innvatin and creativity. While the reprt s fcus is n public libraries, we acknwledge the imprtance f schl and research libraries in the brader cnversatins arund the future f libraries and cmmunities. We hpe that readers will use this reprt as the basis fr explring hw a bld new visin fr public libraries, fully realized, can help t make cmmunities strnger, mre resilient and the kind f cmmunities where peple thrive. Debrah L. Jacbs, Directr Glbal Libraries Prgram Bill & Melinda Gates Fundatin Charles M. Firestne, Executive Directr Cmmunicatins and Sciety Prgram The Aspen Institute RISING TO THE CHALLENGE v

7 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The Aspen Institute Dialgue n Public Libraries wuld nt have been pssible withut the generus supprt and funding frm the Bill & Melinda Gates Fundatin and the fundatin s Glbal Libraries Prgram, led by Debrah Jacbs, directr, and Jessica Drr, deputy directr. These tw leaders, whse cmmitment t strengthening public libraries is recgnized in the United States and arund the wrld, prvided invaluable guidance and insight t the Dialgue thrughut its activities t date. This reprt is the first frm the Dialgue n Public Libraries. Members f the Dialgue s Wrking Grup met twice t examine the evlving rles f public libraries in the United States in light f significant technlgical, ecnmic and scial trends. The first meeting tk place at the Aspen Institute s Aspen Meadws cnference center in Aspen, Clrad, August 3 6, Salman Khan, Funder f Khan Academy, and Walter Isaacsn, President and CEO f the Aspen Institute, jined the wrking grup t discuss the public library rle in the new educatin ecsystem. The secnd gathering tk place at the Csms Club in Washingtn, D.C., Nvember 5 6, The engagement and cntributins f Wrking Grup participants have helped illuminate ways that cmmunities can leverage investments in libraries t build strnger civic eclgies and frge new partnerships fr achieving lcal and natinal gals. The Appendix t this reprt identifies all the Wrking Grup members wh shared their valuable insights. We thank them all fr their cntributins. Thrughut the past year, the Dialgue n Public Libraries als cnvened rundtable fcus grup and preview sessins with bard members and ther thught leaders frm the Public Library Assciatin (PLA), Assciatin fr Rural and Small Libraries (ARSL), the Chief Officers f State Library Agencies (COSLA), the American Library Assciatin (ALA) and the Internatinal City/ Cunty Management Assciatin (ICMA). Participants in these gatherings prvided illuminating insights int pprtunities and challenges inherent in the visin. They als prvided invaluable venues t test, develp and refine the themes and future visin fr libraries. A list f the participants in these sessins and ther infrmal advisrs t the Dialgue appears in the Appendix, and we thank these assciatins, their leaders and participating members fr their supprt and nging engagement. While it is impssible t recrd the names f all whse ideas have been captured in this reprt, a list f ur infrmal advisrs appears in the Appendix. I wuld like t acknwledge in particular Karen Archer Perry, principal cnsultant fr Clarin Cllabrative, wh cllabrated n the initial idea f a library prject at the Aspen Institute. Karen played a significant rle in the creatin f the Dialgue n Public Libraries while serving as senir prgram fficer in the Gates Fundatin s Glbal Libraries Prgram. vi ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

8 The Dialgue has benefitted frm the participatin f thers in the planning and cmpletin f prject activities and this reprt. These individuals include Allysn Bucher and Maura Zehr f Spitfire Strategies, and Aspen Institute clleagues David Devlin-Fltz, Susanna Dilliplane, Rbert Medina and Angbeen Saleem f the Aspen Planning and Evaluatin Prgram (APEP). The Aspen Institute Cmmunicatins and Sciety Prgram staff managed all aspects f the prject with utmst prfessinalism. Our C&S Prgram team includes Ian Smalley, wh served as senir prject manager fr the Dialgue; Tricia Kelly, assistant directr; Rachel Phl, prgram assciate; Ariana Abadian-Heifetz, prgram assciate; and Sarah Eppehimer, senir prject manager, and Jackie Orwick, cnsultant, wh have brught the reprt t life nline at ur website. This reprt is the culminatin f a yearlng effrt and invlved many hands. Craig LaMay, assciate prfessr and interim assciate jurnalism dean at Nrthwestern University s Medill Schl, served as cnference rapprteur fr the tw wrking grup meetings and wrte an early draft. We are grateful fr his wrk capturing the initial ideas fr the visin; Craig s analysis and writing are reflected in this final reprt. As the year prgressed, the Dialgue received additinal writing and editing supprt frm Bb Rthman and Christine Becker, as well as individual wrking grup members. The final reprt is a synthesis f many cntributins. Any missins and errrs cntained in this reprt are the sle respnsibility f the reprt s final authr, the directr f the Dialgue. Finally, I am deeply grateful t Maureen Sullivan, past president f the American Library Assciatin, Susan Bentn, president f the Urban Libraries Cuncil and Susan Hildreth, directr f the Institute f Museum and Library Services. Each has wrn many hats in this prject frm its inceptin: participant, cnsultant, mderatr, partner, mentr, advcate and friend. With their deep well f knwledge, keen intuitin and visin fr what it will take t raise every library t great new heights, Maureen, Susan and Susan have prvided invaluable leadership and supprt, and I thank them. Amy K. Garmer, Directr Aspen Institute Dialgue n Public Libraries Octber 2014 RISING TO THE CHALLENGE vii

9 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Expanding access t educatin, learning pprtunities and scial cnnectins fr all is ne f the great challenges f ur time. It is a challenge made mre urgent by the rapid transitin frm ld industrial and service-based ecnmic mdels t a new ecnmy in which knwledge and creativity are the drivers f prductivity and ecnmic grwth, and infrmatin, technlgy and learning are central t ecnmic perfrmance and prsperity. It is nt nly the ecnmy but all f sciety that is being reshaped by these trends. Amid these changes, there are divides in wealth, digital inclusin and participatin that threaten t widen if we as a natin d nt cmmit t new thinking and aggressive actin t prvide these pprtunities fr all. This is a time f great pprtunity fr cmmunities, institutins and individuals wh are willing t champin new thinking and nurture new relatinships. It is a time f particular pprtunity fr public libraries with their unique stature as trusted cmmunity hubs and repsitries f knwledge and infrmatin. viii EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

10 THE PUBLIC LIBRARY IN THE DIGITAL AGE Libraries are essential t success and prgress in the digital age. The prcess f re-envisining public libraries t maximize their impact reflects: PUBLIC LIBRARIES AT THE CENTER OF THE DIGITAL AGE Principles that have always been at the center f the public library s missin equity, access, pprtunity, penness and participatin The library s capacity t drive pprtunity and success in tday s knwledge-based sciety An emerging mdel f netwrked libraries that prmtes ecnmies f scale and bradens the library s resurce reach while preserving its lcal presence Public libraries are pised t play a leading rle in helping individuals and cmmunities adapt t this changing wrld. Many libraries already are linking individuals t infrmatin and learning pprtunities, driving develpment and innvatin, and serving as cmmunity cnnectrs. With nearly 9,000 public library systems and 17,000 library branches and utlets acrss the cuntry, there is already a significant physical presence and infrastructure t leverage fr lng-term success. The library s fundamental peple, place and platfrm assets The Dialgue s perspective n the 21stcentury library builds n the public library s prven track recrd in strengthening cmmunities and calls fr libraries t be centers f learning, creativity and innvatin in the digital age. N lnger a nice-t-have amenity, the public library is a key partner in sustaining the educatinal, ecnmic and civic health f the cmmunity during a time f dramatic change. Public libraries inspire learning and empwer peple f all ages. They prmte a better trained and educated wrkfrce. They ensure equitable access and prvide imprtant civic space fr advancing demcracy and the cmmn gd. Public libraries are engines f develpment within their cmmunities. Enabling all libraries t fulfill their new rles will require library leaders, plicy makers and cmmunity stakehlders t re-envisin the public library and take advantage f the pprtunities it ffers. RISING TO THE CHALLENGE ix

11 PEOPLE, PLACE AND PLATFORM The emerging value prpsitin f the public library is built arund three key assets peple, place and platfrm: PEOPLE. The public library is a hub f civic engagement, fstering new relatinships and strengthening the human capital f the cmmunity. Librarians are actively engaged in the cmmunity. They cnnect individuals t a vast array f lcal and natinal resurces and serve as neutral cnveners t fster civic health. They facilitate learning and creatin fr children and adults alike. PLACE. The public library is a welcming space fr a wide range f purpses reading, cmmunicating, learning, playing, meeting and getting business dne. Its design recgnizes that peple are nt merely cnsumers f cntent but creatrs and citizens as well. Its physical presence prvides an anchr fr ecnmic develpment and neighbrhd revitalizatin, and helps t strengthen scial bnds and cmmunity identity. The library is als a virtual space where individuals can gain access t infrmatin, resurces and all the rich experiences the library ffers. In the creative design f its physical and virtual spaces the public library defines what makes a great public space. PLATFORM. The public library is user-centered. It prvides pprtunities fr individuals and the cmmunity t gain access t a variety f tls and resurces with which t discver and create new knwledge. The platfrm enables the curatin and sharing f the cmmunity s knwledge and innvatin. A great library platfrm is a third place an interactive entity that can facilitate many peple perating individually and in grups and supprts the learning and civic needs f the cmmunity. x EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

12 STRATEGIES FOR SUCCESS The Dialgue cncludes that the lng-term health f libraries is essential t the lng-term health f the cmmunities they serve and identified fur strategic pprtunities fr actin t guide the cntinuing transfrmatin. 1. ALIGNING LIBRARY SERVICES IN SUPPORT OF COMMUNITY GOALS Public libraries that align their peple, place and platfrm assets and create services that priritize and supprt lcal cmmunity gals will find the greatest pprtunities fr success in the years ahead. Managers f lcal gvernments reprt that it is ften difficult t priritize libraries ver ther cmmunity services such as museums r parks and recreatin departments that als serve a distinctly public missin. What libraries need is t be mre intentinal in the ways that they deply resurces in the cmmunity, and mre deeply embedded in addressing the critical challenges facing the cmmunity. This will require a level f flexibility and adaptability t change as cmmunity needs change. It will als require cllabratin amng libraries, plicy makers and cmmunity partners t redefine the rle f libraries as institutins that inspire learning, drive develpment, grw scial capital and create pprtunities. 2. PROVIDING ACCESS TO CONTENT IN ALL FORMATS As the public library shifts frm a repsitry fr materials t a platfrm fr learning and participatin, its ability t prvide access t vast amunts f cntent in all frmats is vital. Libraries face tw immediate majr challenges in prviding access t cntent in all frms: Being able t prcure and share e-bks and ther digital cntent n the same basis as physical versins Having affrdable, universal bradband technlgies that deliver and help create cntent Dealing with bth challenges have been high pririties fr public libraries thrughut the cuntry. The challenges have been particularly acute fr small libraries, thse in rural cmmunities and in sme urban areas where limited budgets make access t e-bks and upgrades t high-speed bradband difficult despite high cmmunity need fr and interest in bth. Ensuring access t e-bks, ther e-cntent and mre-than-adequate highspeed bradband is a big cncern ging frward because it impacts the public library s ability t fulfill ne f its cre missins t prcure and share the leading ideas f the day and enable everyne t participate in the wrld s cnversatins. RISING TO THE CHALLENGE xi

13 3. ENSURING THE LONG-TERM SUSTAINABILITY OF PUBLIC LIBRARIES Perhaps the greatest challenge facing public libraries tday is t transfrm their service mdel t meet the demands f the knwledge sciety while securing a sustainable funding base fr the future. With limited and smetimes vlatile funding, hwever, such transfrmatins will be uneven and incmplete. In additin, the highly lcal nature f public library funding and gvernance structures may interfere with bth rapid and brad-scale prgress the kind f scale needed t cmpete and thrive in a wrld f glbal netwrks. Challenges that shape the discussin abut lng-term public library sustainability given their vital rle in the digital era include: Identifying reliable surces f revenue fr daily peratins as well as lng-term planning and investment Explring alternative gvernance structures and business mdels that maximize efficient and sustainable library peratins and custmer service 4. CULTIVATING LEADERSHIP Leadership is needed acrss the cmmunity frm elected fficials, gvernment leaders, business and civic leaders and libraries themselves t build cmmunities and public libraries that thrive and succeed tgether. Visin is a critical cmpnent f leadership. Every cmmunity needs a visin and a strategic plan fr hw t wrk with the public library t directly align the library and its wrk with the cmmunity s educatinal, ecnmic and ther key gals. It must have input frm all stakehlder grups in the cmmunity. Key steps in building cmmunity leadership t supprt the public library include imprving cmmunicatins with cmmunity leaders, develping cmmunity champins, strengthening intersectins with diverse cmmunities and cmmunities f clr, reaching ut t and engaging with yung-prfessinal rganizatins and demnstrating the cllective impact f partners wrking tgether. Becming mre skilled at measuring utcmes rather than cunting activities Balancing the lcal and natinal library value prpsitin t cnsider ecnmies f scale in a netwrked wrld withut cmprmising lcal cntrl xii EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

14 RISING TO THE CHALLENGE Re-Envisining Public Libraries RISING TO THE CHALLENGE 1

15 A NEW WORLD OF KNOWLEDGE Expanding access t educatin, learning pprtunities and scial cnnectin fr all is ne f the great challenges f ur time. It is a challenge made mre urgent by the rapid transitin frm ld industrial and service-based ecnmic mdels t a new ecnmy in which knwledge and creativity are the drivers f prductivity and ecnmic grwth, and infrmatin, technlgy and learning are central t ecnmic perfrmance and prsperity. It is nt nly the ecnmy but all f sciety that is being reshaped by these trends. Amid these changes, there are trubling divides in wealth, digital inclusin and participatin that threaten t widen if we as a natin d nt cmmit t new thinking and aggressive actin t prvide these pprtunities fr all. 2 EXECUTIVE A NEW WORLD SUMMARY OF KNOWLEDGE

16 The digital era has prduced remarkable changes in everyday life fr the individual as well as fr the cmmunity. Scial media cnnect peple acrss twn and arund the wrld, enabling new kinds f cmmunities that transcend gegraphic barriers. We have experienced a huge Gutenberg-scale inflectin pint in the last 10 years. The wrld has gne frm cnnected t hypercnnected and frm intercnnected t interdependent. THOMAS FRIEDMAN Mbile technlgies prvide always-n cnnectivity t peple and infrmatin, and they enable us t enjy mre highly persnalized and immediate experiences with infrmatin, media, educatin and cmmerce. Advances in sensrs and related technlgy are making individuals healthier and ur cmmunities even smarter while at the same time creating muntains f data t be filtered, analyzed and turned int new knwledge. Infrmed, engaged citizens demand a strnger vice and greater participatin in shaping their cmmunities and increased gvernment transparency and accuntability. These envirnments are shaped by a vast explsin f easily accessible infrmatin and new definitins f cmmunity, as well as a need fr new resurces and skills. The changes and their impacts are dramatic: TECHNOLOGY has made it pssible fr individuals t have instant access in their hmes r n prtable devices t the equivalent f the Library f Cngress s entire hldings. 1 COMMUNITIES, nce defined almst exclusively by gegraphic bundaries, are increasingly shaped by scial media, ften based n mutual interests rather than physical lcatin. Netwrks, rather than neighbrhds, have becme the dminant frm f scial rganizatin. Entire industries are upended by the smetimes disrupting impact f digital technlgies; new markets, new businesses, and new relatinships arise frm the glbal t the hyperlcal levels, in sme cases affrding greater chice in where t live and wrk. Amng the transfrmative scial changes brught n by digitizatin are new infrmatin and learning envirnments in which knwledge is n lnger stable ver many years and skills quickly becme bslete. EMPLOYMENT is increasingly transient, with the average wrker staying in a jb 4.4 years rather than an entire career. Amng wrkers brn between 1979 and 1999, average tenure is 2.2 years r less. 2 Keeping up with a mre mbile jb marketplace requires access t infrmatin and resurces and skills t navigate vast amunts f infrmatin. RISING TO THE CHALLENGE 3

17 The knwledge ecnmy requires individuals t acquire a range f skills and t cntinuusly adapt thse skills t changing circumstances. Authr and New Yrk Times clumnist Thmas Friedman has written abut the impact that the evlutin t a digitally driven ecnmy, with its demand fr cntinual renewal f skills, is having n individuals and cmmunities. Friedman calls it a 401(k) wrld a wrld f defined cntributins, nt defined benefits. 3 We have experienced a huge Gutenbergscale inflectin pint in the last 10 years. The wrld has gne frm cnnected t hypercnnected and frm intercnnected t interdependent. This has been such a shift in degree that it has becme a shift in kind, Friedman says in a 2014 interview. 4 Driving this big shift is the emergence and rapid diffusin f fur majr technlgies persnal cmputing, the Internet, cllabrative wrkflw sftware and search capabilities (e.g., Ggle) which Friedman bserves has created a platfrm n which mre peple frm mre places culd cmpete, cnnect and cllabrate as individuals r cmpanies fr less mney with greater efficiency and greater ease than ever befre. 5 T a significant degree, the knwledge ecnmy gives birth t the creatin ecnmy, a free-agent ecnmy in which pprtunities fr lifelng learning must be abundant and peple need skills as knwledge creatrs, nt simply infrmatin cnsumers. Imprtantly, these learning pprtunities must be present thrughut the cmmunity and persistent thrughut a lifetime. 6 Nw the half-life f a skill is dwn t abut five years, and genres have a lifetime f fur r five years, s mst learning in the future wn t g n in schls, said Jhn Seely Brwn, cdirectr f the Delitte Center fr the Edge, at the first meeting f the Dialgue wrking grup. We ve shifted frm stable stcks f knwledge and an archived wrld t a wrld f infrmatin flws, participatin and states f cnfusin. Nw we create as fast as we learn. The game is mre cmplicated. At the same time that the half-life f a skill is shrinking, infrmatin is becming mre abundant and the means f prductin are becming mre accessible. This pens up new channels fr sharing and the distributin f knwledge. A state f infrmatin abundance places a premium n the ability t navigate, create and innvate in this new envirnment. The ability t explit these means f prductin and knwledge sharing has becme the new literacy. 7 In this envirnment, success will belng t the entrepreneurial learner, the persn capable f finding resurces anywhere and using them t read the wrld and teach themselves. 8 The sweeping changes underway pse new and sustained challenges fr cmmunities, which are changing as well. Over the next three decades, the U.S. ppulatin is expected t grw t mre than 400 millin, with mst f that grwth cming frm immigratin. 4 A NEW WORLD OF KNOWLEDGE

18 By 2050, ne in five Americans will be an immigrant, and 30 percent f the ppulatin is prjected t be Hispanic. The United States is aging, t: By 2050, ne in five Americans will be ver the age f Cncurrent with these demgraphic changes are fundamental shifts in the ecnmy that change hw Americans will learn and earn a living. In its 2009 reprt, the Knight Cmmissin n the Infrmatin Needs f Cmmunities in a Demcracy described the digital era as a mment f technlgical pprtunity unleashing innvatin in the creatin and distributin f infrmatin and requiring new thinking and aggressive actin. The Cmmissin went n t say, Every advance in cmmunicatins technlgy expands the pssibilities fr American demcracy, but every infrmatin system als creates ptential winners and lsers. 10 Hw we seize this mment f pprtunity, and the visins and actins that carry us frward int the future, will affect nt nly the health and prsperity f individuals and families, but the quality f the demcratic cmmunities that we nurish and sustain in the 21st century. Will they be thriving, prsperus and sustainable cmmunities that attract new residents? Will they be places where we will want t live? WHAT PEOPLE AND COMMUNITIES NEED TO FLOURISH IN THE KNOWLEDGE ECONOMY LIFELONG ACCESS t an ever-increasing and everchanging bdy f knwledge and tls t ensure that their skills remain relevant t the current ecnmy as it cntinues t evlve THE CAPACITY AND DISPOSITION TO LEARN IN SMALL, QUICK DOSES rather than wade thrugh munds f links and piles f data that prvide t much infrmatin and t little knwledge THE ABILITY TO USE, UNDERSTAND AND PROCESS INFORMATION IN MANY DIFFERENT FORMS including text, data, audi and vide and t evaluate the quality f infrmatin frm different surces and understand its relevance. PLACES TO GATHER, cllabrate and cntribute t knwledge develpment ACCESS TO CONVERSATIONS AMONG CREATIVE PEOPLE in their areas f interest s that they can innvate and develp r maintain a cmpetitive advantage in the knwledge ecnmy Peple and cmmunities need PUBLIC LIBRARIES. RISING TO THE CHALLENGE 5

19 Appraches t managing the pprtunities and risks f this new era can differ widely frm cmmunity t cmmunity, but there are appraches that are emerging as indicatrs f success. One f these is re-envisining the rle f the public library as a vital learning institutin and engine fr individual, cmmunity and civil sciety develpment. The library, the mst demcratic f public institutins, is the essential civil sciety space where this new America will make its demcratic character. The library is a cre civil sciety institutin, demcracy s maker space. In a healthy demcracy, civil sciety is the piece that makes the rest f the demcratic machinery pssible and wrkable. Mst simply, civil sciety cnsists f everything that falls under the rubric f vluntary assciatin, frm churches t neighbrhd assciatins, sftball leagues t garden clubs. The library, the mst demcratic f public institutins, is the essential civil sciety space where this new America will make its demcratic character. Civil sciety perfrms a number f critical functins: It prvides a buffer between the individual and the pwer f the state and the market, it creates scial capital, and it develps demcratic values and habits. 11 Civil sciety is where citizens becme citizens. By design and traditin, the public library is the essential civil sciety institutin. Thrugh the prvisin f space, infrmatin and inspiratin, it enables all the thers. The institutin f the public library is uniquely psitined t prvide access, skills, cntext and trusted platfrms fr adapting in this new sciety. 6 A NEW WORLD OF KNOWLEDGE

20 A RENEWED VISION OF THE PUBLIC LIBRARY America s public libraries have changed with the times with remarkable skill and agility ver their lng histry. The natin s nearly 9,000 public library systems remain highly trusted cmmunity anchrs where resurces are universally available and everyne is welcme. Libraries are stable, reliable, nimble and always there. RISING TO THE CHALLENGE 7

21 Libraries can help yu get frm t much infrmatin t knwledge. While remaining cmmitted t their essential missin f prviding access t knwledge and prmting literacy, 21st-century library rles extend far beynd bk lending. Fr example, when Hurricane Sandy ravaged Queens, New Yrk, in Octber 2012, the Queens Public Library jined the respnse effrt by prviding emergency supplies, cmfrt and referrals, and served as a steady and visible resurce t a cmmunity in need. Within three days f the strm, the library pened a mbile site near the hardest hit areas f the brugh t prvide infrmatin, referrals and a safe place fr strm-weary residents. 12 Public libraries have cntinued t evlve bth t respnd t immediate challenges and t build their capacity t address lngterm individual and cmmunity needs, pprtunities and challenges. The breadth f their wrk in the cmmunities they serve tday is staggering, including lifelng learning pprtunities, wrkfrce develpment, civic engagement, disaster recvery, public health, envirnmental sustainability and mre. Yet in the face f the new realities f the 401(k) wrld, even public libraries must define their cntributins, nt just their benefits. Public libraries are pised fr this transfrmatin. We lament when institutins dig in their heels and embrace the status qu, says Julia Stasch, then-vice president f U.S. prgrams fr the Jhn D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fundatin, in an interview fr a 2012 special editin f Natinal Civic Review n Public Libraries and Civic Engagement. In cntrast, libraries n the whle are eager t embrace changes in sciety. 13 NORMAN JACKNIS Libraries eagerness t embrace changes in sciety, while retaining the fundatins that have made them trusted, welcming places fr everyne, make them ideal partners in the digital age. In fact, libraries, mre than any ther institutin, have the stature and capacity t make the prmise f the knwledge sciety available t all Americans. A reprt by Internatinal Data Crpratin fund that in 2010 the quantity f infrmatin transmitted glbally exceeded ne zettabyte fr the first time and is dubling every tw years. 14 The Internatinal Federatin f Library Assciatins and Institutins (IFLA) further identified five trends as particularly imprtant develpments that cmmunities and their libraries will have t watch and t which they will have t respnd: NEW TECHNOLOGIES will bth expand and limit wh has access t infrmatin. ONLINE EDUCATION will demcratize and disrupt glbal learning, but ging glbal and mbile des nt mean yu have t lse tactile and lcal. THE BOUNDARIES OF PRIVACY AND DATA PROTECTION will be redefined. HYPERCONNECTED SOCIETIES will listen t and empwer new vices and grups. THE GLOBAL INFORMATION ECONOMY will be transfrmed by new technlgies A RENEWED VISION OF THE PUBLIC LIBRARY

22 Persistent educatin and learning are the reality... the library as peple, place and platfrm is the new knwledge institutin that can serve all thse needs. LEE RAINIE These are issues that library leaders, plicymakers and the public will need t address as public library mdels and services evlve in the digital age. The Dialgue s discussins and cnclusins raised these same issues and cncluded that a willingness t engage in new thinking arund issues such as privacy and data prtectin, and t develp new appraches t preserving these in the digital age, are needed. Libraries will have t cntend with these issues if they hpe t be at the center f this transfrmatin, helping individuals, cmmunities and leaders navigate the big shift t a digital sciety. While libraries have lng played an imprtant rle in helping individuals navigate changes such as ffering services and resurces t supprt new immigrants in the cmmunity the digital transfrmatin and its effect n all aspects f life is dramatic, cmprehensive and permanent. The pace and cmplexity f change are likely t increase rather than ebb. As public libraries acquire new rles as platfrms fr lifelng learning and ecnmic and scial develpment, they likely will need t cnsider new rganizatinal, gvernance and business mdels in respnse t these pressures and trends. The grand theme is that ubiquitus educatin and learning rises with ubiquitus cmputing, ntes Lee Rainie, directr f the Pew Research Center Internet Prject. Persistent educatin and learning are the reality as peple march thrugh their days with their smartphnes and, sn, the Internet f Things embedded everywhere. The library as peple, place and platfrm is the new knwledge institutin that can serve all thse needs. RISING TO THE CHALLENGE 9

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