When I started library school oh, those many years ago (Holy shnikies, it was a decade ago...), the library landscape was all abuzz about something they liked to call “Library 2.0.” This prediction, nay this prophetic vision of the scope of library and librarian arts was to transform how libraries dealt with their patrons through uses of “social media.” Platforms on the burgeoning Internet began to form and change, creating virtual spaces. As MySpace ushered out the social king Friendster, librarians began formulating their own path to social eloquence. Could the library have a social rapport with its patrons in this new Internet landscape?
The answer, as you all know, is... sorta? There have been successes and failures, but mostly a library “page” or “account” on a social media platform has little personality and exists mostly as a message board for events. Why is this? Because a library exists to reflect the personality of its community and unless your community is a metropolis then looking at your library’s Facebook page is like looking at your own profile page. You know what’s on there and you don’t care, unless you are the kind of freak that takes pictures at storytime..
So Library 2.0 became a wandering puddle of “eh.” And that’s okay. We tried and we are still trying, but until someone stands up and gives your library an opinion beyond “Save Libraries,” “Look at What We Found in the Library Basement,” “Read This Best Seller,” and “Come to the Save the Library Bake Sale,” very few library social network accounts will matter.
That being said... where there’s a 2.0, there’s a 3.0. And a 4.0. And a 5.0.
I know what you are thinking...
“You don’t know what I’m thinking.”
That’s what you were thinking as well as “what if the library gets hit by a meteor or the moon explodes by the misappropriation of a rogue Care Bears stare? Where’s gonna be your Library 3.0 then, huh?” Don’t worry about that. Put the possibility of libraries not being saved by bake sales out of your mind and come with me to the Marshmallow Mountain of Dreams where you can eat all day and wake up with your pillow right where you left it, curled up between your legs because that gives you better back support as you sleep and kinda feels good when your no-no parts get a taste.
What will this future library look like?
Digital Guy that claims everything will be in the cloud, shut the f^%k up. We are dreaming, not digitizing. Here are five things I see happening in Library 5.0, way down the line in the year 2020.
1. Mind Fusion
A patron has a burning question that for some reason he/she cannot Google. They walk into a library or log onto a library website. They are greeted by a library representative or a representative artificial intelligence (AI) of the library. Then, instead of a standard reference interview, a small form is given for consent is signed and BOOM, the patron’s mind and the mind of the librarian/AI are fused together, meshed as one and exist in the same space and time. The fusion brings the question to a higher part of the patrons/librarian brain and they together begin combing through the collected digital works of man that the librarian is already jacked into and can navigate because, f#$k you, they can. The answer is found and uploaded directly into the patron’s brain and they disconnect. The entire process appears to be instantaneous.
2. Total Recall
Do you remember that Arnold Schwarzenegger movie Total Recall or that Colin Farrell movie Total Recall? Both had their high and their low points but stop thinking about them and think about the technology in them: Recall. In the movie, the company could implant memories of anything into a person’s head, giving them a great vacation or whatever. Now think about what could be done with that? Think about not only having the memory of reading 50 Shades of Gray, but actually living through the story. Don’t like that? Okay, how about Hunger Games or whatever. Book reports would be the shit if kids actually had memories of dodging fireballs or getting BDSM’d to completion. Post traumatic stress disorder does not even begin to describe what having the memory of living through the Twilight series must be like.
3. Replicant Librarians
We have proven we can upload thoughts and ideas and even whole memories, now’s time to get all fleshy. Fake Librarian Human-Bots. And not just robots or AI that act like people and have to go to school for their MLIS’s like we have now, but real deal grown in a lab librarians bred to do the job most of us do not want to do: serve. Imagine being able to call in the Libraribot to deal with the horrible patron or the kid who pees in the plants while you go help the nice old lady pick out Westerns for her bedridden husband. Yeah, I just pulled you around with that heartwarming s*&t, huh? We just have to shorten the fake librarian lifespan to 2-4 years so they do not accumulate enough hate for humanity to rebel or discover Solitaire on the staff computer.
We went mind and then flesh, but how about devices? Sure, a sonic screwdriver would be nice, but when do you find yourself truly in need of one? Or there’s a bunch of archives out there that would love to freeze stuff like in Demolition Man, but who has the time? Well, right after replicators that can make anything out of atoms we need to get on some Holodecks! How cool would that make Summer Reading? “Today, we’re gonna walk the plank, me hearties!” WE COULD HAVE AN ACTUAL READING F&^%ING RAINBOW!!! LIKE A RAINBOW THAT READS AND S^#T!!
Shit would be like Airwolf, son!