The Future of Libraries – Arup Workshop

Arup workshop“Libraries are going through a renaissance, both in terms of the social infrastructure they provide and in terms of a diversification of the services and experiences offered.” This was the opening premise of a discussion workshop on the Future of Libraries that I attended at Arup’s London offices last week. Together with Anne Ashdown from TFPL, I was part of a cohort of around 25 information professionals brought together to help to identify the factors which will impact organizations providing library services and those who use and access these services, both physically and digitally.

Our discussion encompassed changes in spatial design, services offered, customer base, digital experience, and impacts on the people working in libraries and providing the service. We were asked to focus on the main implications of spatial design, operation and user experience of different library typologies, including public, corporate, special and academic.

STEEP Foresight Cards formed the starting point for our discussions – and the themes that emerged from the STEEP categories (Social, Technological, Economical, Environmental and Political) were ultimately condensed into four loose categories:

  • Knowledge of Sources / SDI
  • Universal Access & Affordability / Egalitarian Society
  • Multi-Disciplinary Collaborative Working & Learning
  • Retrofitting / Investment & Funding Needs.

The event was hosted by Arup Foresight + Research + Innovation , Arup’s internal think-tank and consultancy, which deals with the future of the built environment and society at large. It was a very stimulating event, and it was great to catch up with friends and contacts from across the sector.

Last week’s London workshop is one of a series taking place internationally across all Arup’s offices.  We look forward to seeing the results of this research when it is published later this year.

– Donald Lickley

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