Sven Totté, Director for Business Area Public Library, Axiell:
The world is constantly changing and adapting to new technologies. Understanding these digital trends and identifying tomorrow’s expectations is essential for libraries to plan and incorporate new solutions that evolve both the way they work and how they engage with communities. We are in contact with hundreds of cultural institutions on a daily basis and, to summarise where the cultural sector is heading, our team of library experts has put together the important trends to take note of in 2016…
1. OBSESSION WITH THE PRESENT
Obsession with the present drives people to capture every moment with selfies, videos and blogs – activities that were not possible in the past, only because we did not have the supporting technology. If libraries took a ‘Pinterest’ approach to sharing materials, like those around community events, they would be able to promote content within the community, better engage with the public and build on existing content.
2. BLAST FROM THE PAST
Blast from the past is becoming a common trend, with people taking a new appreciation to what was popular in days gone by, like vinyls and second hand artefacts. Now more than ever, people have developed an interest in local heritage and history – both trends may be a search for quality and meaning in life through the local and tangible. Libraries have the opportunity to help people share their own and their ancestors’ stories, supported with relevant material, and also digitise previously paper-based content for access online.
3. THE THIRD PLACE
The third place is where you spend time outside of home and work. Libraries can evolve to become a hub for community life, providing physical spaces where people can meet, socialise and learn. However, virtual third places are becoming popular, providing an opportunity for libraries to allow communities to experience and learn on a neutral and accessible platform.
4. BIG DATA
Big Data is an important trend in the library sector due to the increasingly large data sets that libraries hold. By analysing this data, libraries can gain a rich understanding of its patrons and identify patterns and trends to inform future strategies. Is your library using big data to better your community’s experience?
5. INTERNET OF RELATIONS
Internet of Relations is a similar concept to the Internet of Things, only this sees people connected to each other through sharing content or common interests. The Internet of Relations will cut through the noise on the internet and social channels, ensuring people find the content and opinions they desire from someone within their community, giving it far more influence. Libraries are ideally placed to tap into this trend, connecting people and content in either a physical space (the library itself) or digital space (online book clubs).
6. EX MACHINA
Ex Machina, or the replacement of man by AI and robots, is only one of the big issues that many of us worry about or don’t have faith in. This trend, be it on a personal relations or societal level, requires a forum to be effective. Libraries can step in to enrich this trend, offering more besides the immediacy culture and common shallowness of social media. It is possible to reach out to the community over time by using online solutions to share content like presentations and activities held at the library, with external web resources for anyone to access and by moderating adjacent online discussions groups.
7. THE AI ADVISOR
The AI Advisor is already here – it’s what cookies in your computer help to achieve. But the library will be able to offer alternatives to these “filer bubbles” by setting up autonomous browsing abilities and other search and find paths, broadening the scope at will, offering the joy of serendipity. The result is options for the consumer that are highly individually-biased, but not mechanical, to enrich their experience.
Libraries are no longer confined by space and location and digitisation has played an important part in this evolution, with trends already evident across the sector. However, others are waiting in the wings and, as necessity is the mother of invention, we won’t be surprised to see these trends influence and shape technology and digital solutions in the future.