While using the new Flipboard app for the iPad earlier this week, I came across this really cool look back into 1959 for the perception of the home library of the future:
So, first, I admit to you that I would love to have a home library that looks something like the one in that image. How cool mid-century is that? I think I would skip the shield and spears, though. Oh, and the book projected on the ceiling as well. Now reader, I know that you expect me to discuss what this has to do with library science and how it piqued my librarian brains. I won’t disappoint you!
The first idea that occurred to me about this library of the future is the assumption that reading will be the primary means by which people consume information, and that this reading will happen through books. By 1959, libraries and broader society had undergone many phases of change as to how information was recorded, shared, and consumed. However, 1959 was a time when America very much looked forward for innovations that would happen in the near future. The idea of projecting books on the ceiling is very amusing to me, as this was thought to be something from the future. Reading as a central activity was still common in the American home, and thus was assumed to be central to the home in the future. However, the mass consumption of television and the advent of the internet changed all of that. Now we consume information through multimedia – video, sound, and text – in a variety of formats. Little did they know that we would be consuming all this media on a device connected wirelessly to the internet that is no bigger than a small deck of cards.
I will say, though, that the early notion of a DVR is pretty neat, and hints at the dominance of visual media in the culture of the future. We do truly live in a visual culture, and I feel that this is something very much neglected by libraries in their self-promotion. Yes, the written word is visual, but the broad public is so influenced by good and effective graphic design that libraries should put more effort into their graphic identities, and the overall design of their image.
What are your feelings about the library of the future? If we created a column like the one above, what would it show and describe? What would it say about our current conceptions of media-driven culture?