Report from Europe: “The Digitized Future: How Libraries are Pioneering a Cultural Transformation”
From Deutsche Welle:
Some 120 million visitors take advantage of the educational and cultural offerings of German libraries each year. That’s one reason why, in September, the German Council for Cultural Education published a study on the digitization of library services. One of the results: Digitization has a very positive effect on both the image, and range of services, of libraries.
The national library body has therefore set it sights on a region that is using digitization to revolutionize how libraries of the future can be designed: the Baltic states of Latvia and Lithuania.
The National Library of Latvia in Riga, for instance, has been a beacon of modernity from its founding. The Gunnar Birkerts-designed structure is considered one of the greatest new library buildings in the world. In planning since 1992 but was not completed until 2014, the majestic building created by the Latvian-American architect provides space for manuscripts, books, newspapers and magazines — a total of four million objects.
But even more important than this hard copy archive is the library’s expansive digital resources. While a national libraries index gives access to 40 library databases, all 801 Latvian public libraries.
In contrast to Germany, libraries have a major social mission to educate the public. The Vilnius public library has developed a program that tries to strengthen children from socially disadvantaged families. More than simply offering up books or comics, Lithuanian software developers have also designed games that function as communication platforms for children.
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About Gary Price
Gary Price (email@example.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com.