Libraries Connecting Communities at the Digital Shift

digital_shiftWe recently had the opportunity to participate as Library Journal hosted the 6th annual Digital Shift virtual conference. This event once again pulled together a number of the most talked about issues in the library world and provided the opportunity to gain insight from numerous experts without even leaving your desk.

The good news is that the library has more opportunities than ever to support the needs of their communities but as noted by John Palfrey, getting the word out has proved more challenging and libraries everywhere will continue to need to tell the story of all that they offer.

The events of the day were a reminder of several key points:

1. Libraries are still about people and connections within the community.
In his opening keynote address, John Palfry spoke of the need to “Put humanity into the equation.” In this digital age, it is becoming easier than ever to find ways to keep from interacting face to face. Libraries should strive to interject human elements back into their work whether they are interacting in a physical or virtual world. Ultimately, libraries are places for people to come together, learn, share and grow, and it’s important to keep pace with changing needs.

2. Libraries are important drivers in encouraging creative endeavors.
Creation spaces are popping up in many libraries and have taken on many forms. Berwick Academy’s Innovation Center is a great example of how creativity is being used as a way to engage students and develop new skills. Collaboration, communication and creation are encouraged and the approach has reinvigorated the library. Other libraries such as the Arlington Heights Memorial Library have developed programs to draw students in through digital events that used a variety to tools to develop a light show and a code breakers program that taught students to design websites and program finch robots. Program options have also grown to include opportunities for adults.

3. Technology drives opportunity.
As technology becomes more prevalent, it breaks down barriers and extends the library’s reach. Sharing resources and ideas becomes possible through initiatives such as the Digital Public Library of America which presents a rich set of resources that previously had limited access. It can also help librarians share with each other as was discussed by Barbara Alvaez and Gwyneth Stupar who have used tools like Google Hangouts to network and build relationships with other librarians across the country. They initiated The Library OnConference as a way to accomplish this too.

4. Libraries are continually expanding beyond their walls.
From the delivering library content to travelers in the San Antonio International Airport to the gaming event that took place between New York University’s Shanghai and Abu Dhabi campuses, the library is continually demonstrating that it is not limited to the 4 walls of the building. It is both exciting and a little intimidating to grasp the opportunities that this opens up for learning and sharing in our globally networked world.

From the interactions that we had with customers at this event, it became very clear that librarians are constantly seeking information on new ideas and opportunities that they can apply to their libraries. The information from this event is archived for you to view at your convenience.

To build on the insights shared at The Digital Shift 2015, I invite you to explore more of the content here on Ideas + Inspiration. It’s continually updated with on-trend topics to help you make the most of your library. Be sure to check back often for updated information.


Janet Nelson

Janet Nelson

Janet is the former Director of Library Engagement and Solutions at Demco. She managed and developed relationships with key industry leaders to understand changing library trends and services.