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    The rise of the internet has dramatically changed the way that information is created, stored and shared. That change raises many questions for l… Read More
    The rise of the internet has dramatically changed the way that information is created, stored and shared. That change raises many questions for libraries who are looking to remain relevant in a digital age. We were hired to explore these questions. Read Less
    Published:
HOW CAN LIBRARIES THRIVE IN A LANDSCAPE OF EVER-CHANGING TECHNOLOGY?
client: Chicago Public Library // Webbmedia Group
project: Digital Recommendations + Ideas
dates: August 2011 - January 2012
tags:  technology, libraries, innovation, digital strategy

Libraries have always been a place to store and share information. In the past, the primary vehicle for sharing information was through printed publications. The rise of the internet has dramatically changed the way that information is created, stored and shared. That change creates many questions for libraries who are looking to remain relevant and serve the needs of their constituents in the digital age. BYO was hired to explore these questions.

We believe that public libraries are a hugely important part of a democracy. We also believe that in order to survive they will have to embrace the changes in digital technology.



From August 2011 - January 2012 BYO consulting and Webbmedia Group worked with the Chicago Public Library to re-imaging a library for the future. As part of this comprehensive strategy work we developed a broad list of projects that could be implemented using a range of resources and time

Our goal was to harness technology for the purpose of: 

We developed an initial set of 70 different projects. The CPL staff selected 20 of those projects for us to outline, including the following elements: 
We shared three projects in the above report, and hope they are helpful to other libraries considering similar changes: 

1. Geeks in Residence
There are many would-be entrepreneurs who cannot afford to rent an office space and have grown out of working at a coffee shop. The Geeks in Residence project will give local technology start-ups access to shared workspace in exchange for time volunteered to train staff and engage with patrons around technology issues. Transforming the library into a hub that welcomes technology entrepreneurs would help this most important institution keep its footing as information needs shift while giving members of the technology community something they desperately want and need.

2. Adopt a Librarian
Libraries are not just places to get books; they are places to get information. In recent years, people have begun to get more of their information through technology, and as such expect that librarians are also experienced with information technology. This, combined with Americans’ struggle in a down economy, results in many people looking to the library as their primary connection to technology. However, decreased budgets and staff have led to a workforce that is not prepared to provide patrons with guidance around accessing and using technology. The Adopt-a-Librarian program will pair technology whizzes with branch librarians and help them keep up to date with emerging tools and trends.

3. Backstage Tours
Most library patrons engage with the things we want them to see: public buildings, books, records, computers, and workspaces. However, there is a whole other side to libraries that remains hidden to the general public, but which is of utmost interest to many. The library’s “backstage,” where books are stored and sorted is endlessly fascinating to many — particularly those in the technology and information sectors. Libraries could create a backstage tour to bring in high-profile technology and information leaders throughout their regions. This type of activity would help these leaders better understand the complexities, challenges, and opportunities in running a large library system, provide them with networking opportunities with peers, and potentially turn them into library advocates.