The solo theme is echoed in the business news tonight: 42 million Americans work alone as freelancers and independents! That’s 4 times what it was 15 years ago, and freelancers are predicted to outpace FTs by 2020.
Paradoxically, independent workers now contribute to group efforts called “Crowdsourcing” farming out tasks to a large and usually undefined group. oDesk and eLance are online “talent clouds”. Famous Example: Wikipedia. Instead of Wikipedia creating an encyclopedia on their own, hiring writers and editors, they gave a crowd the ability to create the information on their own. This can produce better and faster results, but there is more work to search through ideas, vet them, and there are ethical issues around compensation.
40% of respondents in the US IMPACT study used library computers for employment. Academic and public libraries have galleries for artists, generating sales. Working alone or in the crowd, the library is everyone’s office. Is there competition for the library in this area?
In other financial news: Income Inequality in Ohio appears to be here to stay, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Ohioans in the top 1% of incomes saw their inflation-adjusted incomes grow by 70 percent between 1979 and 2011, The other 99 percent saw their incomes fall by 7.7 percent (Economic Analysis and Research Network, or EARN, and IRS data).
The middle class’s share of income is steadily decreasing. And some researchers now think college debt is wiping out the employment advantage of a degree and affecting relationships, as people don’t want to commit to someone with a large outstanding college loan.
Libraries are THE level playing field in communities, serving “everyone” from patrons who take out VHS tapes and also want us to get one of the free online movie services. Libraries have taken over for bankrupt Blockbuster video stores – is that sad, or a good thing? The differences between our patrons is magnified now more than ever before. Is it possible to close the gap in reading achievement across income lines? To affect workforce development and economic recovery?
Our last business news is about the rise of the “Quantifiable Self”. Reporter David Sedaris recently wrote in the New Yorker about one of our “sponsors,” FITBIT fitness! He walked to the point of exhaustion just to make the lights go and get the tingle on his wrist.
Wearable device sales are growing faster than smartphones, as you see here. Some people use several of these devices!!! They provide a stream of big data to individuals and companies.
And what exactly are libraries doing about these gadgets? Helping people discover and master them? Establishing community metrics? Or – don’t go there, it’s too personal?! What are you doing in this new world of wearable data inputs and quantifiable me?
A recap of our first segment’s trend headlines:
And now for our first commercial from the Friends of Ohio Libraries….
WLIB now brings you the media and tech news of the day: Kindle Unlimited – all the stuff you can read for $9.99 a month. Huff Post said don’t pay them, get a library card! Although only 4% of people surveyed by the Pew Internet Survey this year said they read exclusively e-books, 28% of Americans read an ebook this year. Print is not going away: 7 in 10 Americans read a print book. Is the print book dead? Aren’t you sick of your neighbors and families telling you they are? Let’s take a minute to look at historical trends. Yes, 8-track and Beta video tapes came and went. But what about radio? People thought radio would go away when tv came, it didn’t. In fact, this month, one study said that digital music downloads are up 6% and streaming music use is up 32% - which is radio! There is so much anxiety in the publishing and library professions about the various formats, let’s look at this from the reading point of view: THIS IS A GOLDEN AGE FOR READERS! FOR MEDIA CONSUMPTION! Have it your way! Novels, newspapers, magazines, music, films, you can use so many different devices in so many ways. This is so exciting! But libraries are overwhelmed as to how to divide our collection and space budgets for all these options. Lots of collaboration, like the Ohio Digital Library uses an Overdrive platform, but Overdrive customers don’t really own those titles forever.
Pew Research – a goldmine of data
In tonight’s international news: From Pub to Hub: The British Lead the Way! For years, the center of community life in the British Isles was the local pub, which sadly to say, is on the decline. Now they do “hubs”. “Locality” is the UK’s leading network of community development trusts and social action centers, and were increasingly asked for help as local libraries came under threat of closure. Now they have worked with 10 local authorities and over 50 community groups to establish a community-managed (volunteer-run) library network, primarily in deprived rural communities. These libraries are not the preferred model for library service, and require an endowment, partnership with the library authority and access to professional staff to thrive, but Locality’s vision is “no library user left behind.” The core services are literacy, access to info and education, and Internet services and anything else the community volunteers proscribe.
On the US side of the Atlantic, Let’s build more branch libraries says Eric Klinenberg, the “going solo” sociologist who also studied the 1995 heat wave in Chicago, which killed hundreds. Mr. Klinenberg discovered that while many predominantly poor neighborhoods fared badly, some poor neighborhoods fared well. The difference? Less ravaged neighborhoods had people in shops, parks, and libraries that were not necessarily cool but FAMILIAR and attractive. No one wanted to go to the Official city-run “cooling stations” in police stations and hospitals --the last places people want to hang out. But Libraries – yes! In a similar vein, New Jersey public libraries have a major role evolving as community emergency centers, just as the a party space did after Hurricane Sandy. The Rockaway Beach Surf Club, had posted a note on Facebook: If you need anything, come; if you have anything, bring it. Thousands of people came, brought generators and solar panels. People came to charge phones, locate a plumber, find a lawyer and commiserate with neighbors. They left dark, flooded, scary, lonely homes for the fellowship of a bright, crowded place. Is this the kind of community role your library can embrace? What does a library as community hub look like to you?
Also, ALA has found that attendance at library programs has increased nationally for the 8th year in a row. Computer usage is actually down a bit, so what does that say about what people want from libraries?
So how does a community hub trend affect library architecture and design preferences? Look at the Deanwood branch of Wash DC PL. If you think this is great, you should see….
the swimming pool, for-fee fitness center and community kitchens! This $32 million, 63,000 sf project pushes the boundaries of library presence, and the $125 fitness center fee is about even with the private sector. Unfortunately, this got only a 4 star average rating on Yelp, because someone said, “the pool is too cold for kids.”
This news report is not long enough to provide an in-depth view of library space trends, but suffice it to say, it’s about comfort, collaboration and relaxation, quiet and thinking spaces, less shelving. Davenport IA (top left) Private condo library and bar (top right) Penn State Knowledge Commons (bottom right) Wilmington DE PL (bottom left) Too expensive for your library?
On a smaller scale, cool things are being done in such exotic locations as…. Vaughan PL in Ontario Teen reading lounge (top left) Elizabeth PL (NJ) (top right) Stone Ct. MO, a historic building in an old town (bottom right) and Lorain Ct CC in - OH!!!! Jt school/cc library!!!
It wouldn’t be a trends report if we didn’t get out our crystal ball and look into the future.
The concept of library, to the vast majority of people, is “collections”. But all the industries whose content we curate and loan to our communities are being disrupted, and people are creating their own content as well as consuming it in different ways. The new library concept and brand is library as place, not library of loaning things. A recent international conference on the future of libraries in Chicago had very little to say about collections, it was all about library as café, hub, village green, neighborhood living room, third space.
What if people are the collection? What if librarians focus on creating a “trust space?” What if our stacks changed into content and collaboration chambers? What if we became the “un-university,” the “people’s school”? What if we become leaders and resist the inevitable decline of libraries so many people tell us.
Keep looking at trends, and if will turn into when. Thanks for joining us at WLIB and News You Can Use.
1979 - 2011:
Ohio’s Top 1%:
Work Alone or In Crowd
The “Quantifiable Self”