Will libraries be relevant in the future?

Books 1

By Lynn R. Mitchell

What will libraries look like in 10 years? In 20 … and beyond? That was a question asked Tuesday night as we gathered in the Stanton public library. It was fun to mix it up with board members and Friends of the Library boards from Staunton, Waynesboro, and Augusta County as we mingled, enjoyed dinner, and took part in break-out sessions to discuss aspects of the library.

The purpose of the annual event is to bring together those who are involved in the local libraries.  MaryBeth Moore, chairman of the Staunton Library Board, placed ice breaker questions at each person’s table setting and we went around the room introducing ourselves and answering our question — an innovative way to get a peek into some people’s personalities.

I had, “My dream job would be…” (answer: a blogger in a cabin on a mountain top blogging about everything around me).

Another question was, “If I could take a trip to anywhere, it would be to …” (answers: Greece, back in time to Williamsburg 1774-76), and “If I could have my favorite dessert everyday, it would be …” (answer: tiramisu).

I liked the answers to, “If I could have dinner with a famous, historical person, it would be …” (Lincoln, Jefferson) and, “My favorite thing to do in the area is …” was answered with hiking in the mountains and shopping downtown Staunton by another. There were more along those lines which made for a very interesting introduction session.

I was in the break-out session about the future of libraries. There were four of us and we let our thoughts flow about a library being a meeting place, collaborative space, a real-life Facebook that will grow more and more technology, perhaps provide access to peer review journals and scholarly data base, provide a free learning environment, and we tried to envision everything on paper now eventually being electronic. It was kind of like taking a Dick Tracey look at the future.

Other groups discussed Library Renovations, Talking Book Center, and Promoting Library Use. Each was facilitated by someone from the Staunton library.

At the end we each received a copy of the One Book, One Community group read publication for this year, “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” by Rebecca Skloot, a true story from 1951 about a deceased woman whose cells were taken without her family’s knowledge for medical research, how her family couldn’t afford health insurance thought the cells had been sold throughout the years, and how a daughter tracked it down.

One Book, One Community programs will take place in May with sessions at the three area libraries for the public to participate in group discussions relevant to the book. Meeting subjects include “The Science Behind the Immortal Life,” “The Cell in Modern Medicine,” “DNA: the Amazing Molecule,” “Augusta Health Care Directives,” “DNA Detectives,” “DNA Forensics: You Be the Scientist.” Book discussions will be held throughout May at area library branches.

The “I Geek” program going on at the libraries was brought to the meeting as we had out own “I Geek” photo booth and board to write what we geek. I geek writing.

It was an informative and entertaining evening, thanks to the Staunton public library board, Friends, and staff. Thank you.

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