The Future was Great…Now What?
Now that the year 2000 is well behind us, we find that we are living in what people a century ago saw as the future. We know this has happened before. People in the year 1011 probably realized they were living the future as imagined by the people in the year 900. We wonder if they walked around saying, “Shouldn’t I have a flying carpet by now?”
Here in the library we like the past, but we have to prepare for the future. We always seem to find ourselves in the middle of things. We have a great collection of the books and media that were used to build our history. We have classic literature. We have engineering and agriculture books. In Special Collections we have samples of the written word from the days of clay tablets right up to the digital files of current authors.
The library also has materials that were supposed to show the future, at least as it was imagined years ago. We have social commentaries such as 1984. (Yeah, that didn’t quite turn out.) And we have books that predicted the design of tomorrow, such as house designs and flying cars.
But what will the future really bring? Will people abandon their quest for knowledge as in Fahrenheit 451? Hmmm, we don’t think so. We still see a lot of people curled up reading books in the Sampler Room on level 3 and we still check out thousands and thousands of books. We can’t tell you who checks out which books because that whole Big Brother thing never really caught on, and we don’t want to be bothered with it now. (That, and your records are private.)
So, we still don’t know what the future will bring. Here is what we do know. We know that more and more students and faculty members are expanding their research beyond printed materials into the digital resources we provide. The library also understands that we need to provide spaces and places for group study. We need to add technology to support the systems students use. So we’ve added services such as providing laptops and projectors you can check out. We are looking at ways to boost the technology in groups study rooms. The entire building’s wi-fi system has been updated. And we are looking at adding more of the big comfy chairs and the little round tables people like to gather around.