First, how have reading and books changed since you were a child, for you specifically? Second, talk a little about what you see in the future for reading, books, or publishing - say 20 years from now. Will we read more or less, will our reading become more interactive? What will happen to traditional publishing? This is a very free-form question, feel free to wildly extrapolate or calmly state facts, as suits your mood!
Libraries have been part of my life since I was a child. My grandmother, a nurse by trade, volunteered at the library of my elementary school. When I was in late elementary/early junior high my mother worked at different elementary school library. My aunt worked at a public library. My grandmother was an avid and quick reader of mysteries and it was common for her to place several inter-library loans per week for many years. None of my family, except for me, have any library degrees, however they loved working at libraries. So, with so many family members involved with libraries you can say that libraries are in my DNA. LOL.
As a child I would often go to my elementary library to get books, especially in the summer. I was involved in sports and other activities, however my family made sure I was exposed to and spent time at the library. I enjoyed and still feel the excitement of reading a new story.
As I got older my love of libraries and reading were not as prevalent, especially in junior high and high school. I was involved in more sports, activities, and with the increase in homework reading for enjoyment took a backseat. In college library visits were for homework purposes. Add in a job or two with homework and the library became a place for studying and doing homework.
When I graduated with an undergrad degree in Art and Education and received a state teaching license I was ready to teach. However, vacant art teaching job were not available. So, I saw a job add for the library evening circulation supervisor at Calumet College of St. Joseph. I got the job and started substitute teaching at the same time. After a few months of the substitute teaching jobs in the daytime and my library evening job was getting to be too much for me. I wanted a full time job with health insurance and other benefits. So, after speaking to the library director JoAnn Arnold she told me to give her two weeks before looking for a new job. Within that time, she was able to get me promoted to full time with the understanding that my new position would include her teaching me how to copy catalog and that would also be in charge of the audio visual equipment in the library. JoAnn said that she has noticed that I am adapting very well to the academic library environment, have a knack with audio visual equipment, and that my teaching skills have come in handy many times. This was the start of my library career path.
To make a long story short, over the next 15 years I advanced to the standings of administrative staff aka assistant director. I was in charge of circulation, cataloged copy and original materials, head of audio visual equipment and did reference help one-on-one and in large classroom groups. However, something was missing. I needed the MLS degree. Even with all my years of on the job training I still learned an incredible amount of helpful and priceless information in graduate school at IUPUI…I am graduating in May!!!!! To expand my horizons, I am currently working in a public library.
Getting back to my relationship with books. In junior high when I got the chance to read I would go to the local library or bookstore. In high school I spent a lot of time at the comic book store. I could have saved a lot of money if I had only known about inter-library loans from my local library. In college my time was so consumed with school and work that casual reading was few and far in-between. However, after college I began working in the library and began reading more and more. Now-a-days I read when I get the time. Some of the hard copy novels have been replaced by my e-reader. With graduation within view I already have a large stack of books with more books being added to it that I am ready to jump into.
20 years from now when the world is taken over by the Borg there will be no need for libraries. All essential books will already be coded into our collective. Resistance is futile…..Ok, that is not true or is it? Oh’ just beam me up! LOL.
Seriously, with current technology and how quickly technology is changing the future of libraries, books, and publishing will be continuously evolving organisms. As time has passed so has the way that books are seen by the consumer, the publisher, and the library. At one time books were hard and expensive to produce and regulated to only the wealthy and religious leaders. When Johannes Gutenberg created the printing press in 1450 the world changed. Printed materials could be printed quicker and less expensive than by hand copying (Landis, 2012). More and more people learned how to read and it went from text mainly about and for religious and governmental institution to being enjoyed by the common person.
Libraries started out in ancient times as part of the private collection of the wealthy and powerful people. One of the first libraries was by King Ashurbanipal (668 BC to 627 BC.). He was a powerful and just king to his people and prided himself in his vast collection of clay tables. He would invite his friends to borrow materials from his library. Of course, ruining a clay tablet was a lot more serious than leaving a book out in the rain and the punishment was far worse than having to purchase a book. However, this shows how important knowledge and reading materials were in ancient times (Mingren, 2016).
As time flew by libraries went from subscription libraries where they collected dues from its members to eventually free (tax funded) public libraries. As the types of libraries changed, so did the reason of the libraries. Books are still an important part of the library structure however other types of mediums have joined them including magazines, audio books, DVDs, etc. Also add in more community programs the library setting has evolved.
Publishers have also evolved with libraries. Vendors work with multiple publishers to bring different books, periodicals, audio, video, and interactive resources to library patrons.
So, where do I think books, libraries, and publishers will be in 20 years? A better way to look at it is what do I want these three to be like in 20 years? Let's start with the physical library buildings. Libraries will become functional works of artistic architecture. The buildings will bring pride to their community. The buildings will house physical books, periodicals, video games, and other kinds of research and entertainment items. The physical library will be an integral part of the community. It will offer rooms for programs, a holodeck, advanced research areas, different kinds of entertainment venues, and wonderful archive museums.
Books will be available physically and through e-downloads. Banning books from a library is illegal. Every book will have an audio book version available through the library.
Libraries have become part of a national organization that includes museums and national archives. All the books and archives in all the worlds' libraries, accessible papers in national government archives, and artifacts including 3D pieces in all the worlds' museums have been scanned. Library patrons can accesses these text via screen displays (high tech tables) and can project crisp 3D holograms of artifacts.
Publishers have accepted that charging high costs for books and academic databases is cheating the world of knowledge. They are hiding valuable information from the world. So, after a year all books and articles automatically become free public domain.
The librarian is a highly regarded profession. Everyone has had to go to a library or ask a librarian for help in their studies at some point in their lives. So, all people have realized that without the help of librarians there would be no doctors, lawyers, world leaders, and other professions. All people have also realized that libraries have entertained them with countless hours of enjoyment. With this realization a much higher pay grade for professional librarians is achieved (hopefully this one does not take 20 years. LOL).
Good Luck to everyone in their future library careers!
Landis, L. (2012). The gutenberg press. Oregon University Libraries. Retrieved from http://scarc.library.oregonstate.edu/omeka/exhibits/show/mcdonald/incunabula/gutenberg/
Mingren, W. (2016). Ashurbanipal: The oldest surviving royal library in the world with over 30,000 clay tablets. Ancient Origins. Retrieved from http://www.ancient-origins.net/ancient-places-asia/ashurbanipal-oldest-surviving-royal-library-world-over-30000-clay-tablets-007127