One of my current favourite thinkers is David Weinberg.  He is the author of Everything is Miscellaneous and Too Big to Know.  He thinks a lot about how information is organized, searched and used, particularly in a digital world.  He has written and interesting article the will be published in an upcoming Library Journal issue but is currently available online entitled Library as Platform.
In this article, he proposes that the library, both in its physical and virtual essence, needs to become more like a platform.  He compares the library to Facebook’s opening of the API to developers to build applications for the Facebook platform.  When people build content for a platform, the platform becomes more valuable and begins to cater more to the users of that platform.  He suggests that libraries should judge their success not on size of collections or numbers of books circulated.  They shouldn’t be judged even on how many searches are done on the catalogue or the online databases.  They should be judged on the knowledge created in the environment.
How one sees that knowledge is difficult.  Often, that will be intellectual connections a learner makes but there may not be a product associated with it.  Often there is a product, however.  It might be a list of resources, a paper written on a topic, a slideshow or a powerpoint or even simply a bibliography of resources on a specific topic.  Each of these adds to the collection by showing connections between thoughts presented in books and online documents already in the library space.
This is exactly like the Virtual Learning Commons that David Loertscher proposes in such books as The New Learning Commons: Where Learners Win! and on sites such as his template for a Virtual Learning Commons.  Both Loertscher and Weinberg see the library as a growing body of knowledge rather than a static collection of books.  It is the ideas that form between the resources that allow the building of new resources that measure the true value of any library.  In a digital world, we have many more new ways to explore, share and build that knowledge.
References:

Loertscher, D. (2012, September 9). Template VLC. Retrieved September 11, 2012, from https://sites.google.com/site/templatevlc/

Loertscher, D. V. (2011). New learning commons: Where learners win! Salt Lake City, UT: Hi Willow Research & Publishing.

Weinberger, D. (2007). Everything is miscellaneous: The power of the new digital disorder. New York: Times Books.

Weinberger, D. (2011). Too big to know: Rethinking knowledge now that the facts aren’t the facts, experts are everywhere, and the smartest person in the room is the room. New York: Basic Books.

Weinberger, D. (2012, September 4). Library as Platform. Retrieved from http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2012/09/future-of-libraries/by-david-weinberger/

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.