Future for libraries

Future for libraries

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From Goethe Institut

Libraries lead us through a flood of analogue and digital information, can be a platform for exchange, space for encounters or social anchors in the city. With our series “Future Libraries” we shed light on challenges, trends and examples of success around the future of the library.

Up-to-date library work – Libraries are about people, not media

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Libraries create a future. Their own is uncertain. Start of the “Future Libraries” series on the libraries of tomorrow.

International Summer School – Creative way to improve the quality of life in cities

International Summer School 2018 | Foto (Detail): Bettina Radner/Goethe-Institut

How can libraries help achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals? Following its International Summer School, the Goethe-Institut has awarded prizes to three projects in Russia and Ukraine that address social and ecological issues.

Libraries between tradition and progress – Preserve and move forward

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Libraries have always offered their users a share in cultural memory and knowledge of the times. This has not been changed by digitization. But the manner of knowledge transfer has.

Libraries and Civil Society – Just saving the world, by the way

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“Nobody expects libraries to save the world, but we are in a perfect position to do just that,” say Rebecca T. Miller and Rebekkah Smith Aldrich. In this interview, the two US library experts explain why the belief that digitisation makes libraries irrelevant is a myth.

Libraries and Social Media – “Make libraries great again”

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Ville Vaarne, communications manager of the Finnish Library Association, has received over 200,000 hits with a Youtube video about US President Trump. For Vaarne the proof that social media is a must for libraries.

Libraries as Learning Locations – “Knowledge for everyone, for free. Period.”

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Public and accessible meeting space becomes increasingly rare and high quality education remains out-of-reach for many people. Nico Koenig and Grif Peterson from “Peer 2 Peer University” talk about the potential of libraries as a shared space for community building and lifelong learning.

Modern Work in Libraries – “We need to diversify”

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When modern libraries are discussed, the staff is often envisioned as experts in digitization, integration, inclusion. “But it’s unfair to ask someone to learn everything”, says Nate Hill, Metropolitan New York Library Council.

Media Competence versus Manipulation – What can libraries do against fake news

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Libraries are ill-equipped to fight fake news, critics say. Maybe they were celebrated too soon as bastions against misinformation. But as part of a network they can certainly act against manipulated reports.

Evolving Library Architecture – No future as book warehouses

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Libraries increasingly define themselves as educational and meeting centres. One important element is architecture – which sometimes calls for climbing in hiking boots!

Renaissance of Libraries – New heyday

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Hardly anyone still prophesies the end of the libraries. Instead, the discussion is about how to support them for the benefit of all. A thoroughly optimistic summary of our series “The Future of Libraries”.

About authors:

Leonard Novy is a journalist and political scientist, co-director of the Institute for Media and Communications Policy – a Cologne-based think tank providing research and advice on media policy, digitalization, journalism and political communication – and co-editor of the multi-author blog CARTA.

Samira Lazarovic is a freelance journalist and author specializing in culture and literature as well as business and the stock market. She has also been working in project management at n-tv.de for three years.


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