(Photo by Flickr user Jan David Hanrath, used under a Creative Commons license)
The role of the library as a civic institution is shifting. Since the new millennium, stacks have been steadily replaced with computers. What will libraries begin to look like in the coming 20 years?
Knight News Challenge on Libraries just doled out $1.6 million to organizations trying to figure that out. Two of those recipients, Temple University and media nonprofit PhillyCAM, are based in Philly and won $35,000 each to prototype their ideas for making libraries problem-solving community engagement centers of the future.
“The winners show the potential of libraries to innovate and reinvent themselves in response to ever-evolving information needs,” said John Bracken, vice president of media innovation at Knight Foundation. “We hope they will inspire more innovation in the space and help highlight the many ways libraries can connect communities in the digital age.”
Future-Proofing Civic Data, the winning project out of Temple University in collaboration with data mapping nonprofit Azavea, places libraries in a role they’re familiar with — preserving and archiving information. Temple’s project sees libraries of the future as institutions that preserve and curate open civic data sets by hosting open data portals like the community-managed OpenDataPhilly.
Temple University’s Urban Archives will pilot the project in partnership with OpenDataPhilly with a goal of creating a model for archiving and curating open data sets that can be replicated by other libraries.
The People’s Media Collection, the winning project from PhillyCAM in collaboration with the Free Library, sees libraries of the future as educational community media centers that promote digital literacy and are open for public engagement. PhillyCAM will place resident “media facilitators” inside four Free Library branches to begin training communities in production, newsgathering and storytelling workshops.
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The whole process will be documented to create a prototype that can be replicated by libraries in other cities.
How libraries can round up the funds to keep projects like these alive and thriving is a prompt worthy of another Knight Challenge.-30-
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