What does the future hold in libraries? Well, pretty much what the authors suggested. This book was written in 1995, so we are now their future. (Woah! That was deep!) Libraries still have staff, walls, and collections. Sure, sure, sure…there are libraries without books, but they’re not the norm. Back in 1995, the authors spoke out against virtual libraries. It’s not that they didn’t like technology or didn’t see technology as part of the future of libraries. It’s that they did not believe that technology would – or should – replace physical libraries. People need the “complementing values” that print, buildings, and librarians-in-the-flesh provide. I really like the thesis of this book, and they were really onto something. What’s hot in libraries these days? Community spaces, technology training opportunities, and librarians as trainers and facilitators of information in all of its formats.
Why, then is this an awful library book? Because it’s no longer the future! It’s the present! It needs to be revised and updated to be relevant again. There are some old-fashioned ideas, like “Men appear to be more prone to [technolust] than women” (pg 36) and examples of CD-ROMs, microfiche, diskettes, and cassettes (pg 39). They even discuss at what point LCD will really exceed CRT. (Answer: When a 15-inch 800-by-600 LCD able to display at least 64,000 simultaneous colors costs less than $500.) These were reasonable examples in 1995, but must be updated to be relevant today.