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The future of libraries – can we build a better city through information?

By Ryan Saxby Hill on June 14, 2013

In a recent blog post on the Future of the Library, marketing guru and author, Seth Godin, points to some of the trends converging on our public libraries and imagines what these spaces could look like in the future. He lands on “…the vibe of the best Brooklyn coffee shop combined with a passionate raconteur of information?” adding that “There are one thousand things that could be done in a place like this, all built around one mission: take the world of data, combine it with the people in this community and create value.”

It’s certainly my kind of place and I doubt I’m alone. If more and more of our economy is driven by data, information and knowledge, the storage and maintenance of information should be all the more important. Finding ways to build value from information and organize it in such a way that people can get something from it is something that librarians should be really great at.

Why don’t we have temples of data and information built in Ottawa? What does our city need from a library? Are we doing enough to make sure that a diverse range of Ottawans have access to the information and data they need to compete in our new knowledge economy?

Much of the hope for a temple of data in downtown Ottawa was squashed in the summer of 2010, when plans fell apart to acquire the block at Albert, Bay, Slater and Lyon for a new main branch of the Ottawa Public Library.

It got us thinking about the future of the public library in Ottawa and what we should be planning for. In what ways are the politics and economics of information changing what we need from libraries?

We’ve assembled a panel of some of the city’s librarian-philosophers to chat about what they see as the library of the future and how they see their profession evolving for the digital age.

  • Leslie Weir, University Librarian at the University of Ottawa and former executive with the Canadian Association of Research Libraries.
  • Jennifer Stirling, Division Manager for System-Wide Services & Innovation at the Ottawa Public Library
  • Mary Cavanagh, Assistant Professor in Information Studies at the University of Ottawa

Join us Wednesday, June 26 at the Shopify Lounge for an evening of discussion and debate on the future of the public library in Ottawa. We’ll do live interviews on stage from 7-8 pm, pour the Kichesippi and see where things go. We’ll have librarians, beer and bloggers!

You NEED to pre-register for this talk on Eventbrite.

Thanks to the Public Service Alliance of Canada for their financial support, Awesome Ottawa for giving us some cash to get this lecture off the ground, and special thanks to Maker for our awesome logo. Also, thanks to Shopify for lending us their office for the evening.