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MIT Report on the Future of Libraries

So, what is the library of the future?

It should come as no surprise that we read the MIT Report on the Future of Libraries in it's entirety to anyone that follows us on here. Below are a list of highlights we've identified and our comments in italics.

Vision for the Future of Libraries

abundant, equitable, meaningful access to knowledge and to the products of the full life cycle of research

a global library for a global university

take a leading role in the development of models that are open, equitable, and effective to ensure the most productive environment and tools for education, research, and discovery to tackle the world’s most challenging problems

Instead of leaving this to one library to take on, how can multiple libraries pool their talent and resources to develop the library of the future that is so long overdue.

Open Knowledge

advancing more radically open systems for the discovery, use, and stewardship of information and knowledge

the open platform would allow sharing of the full range of objects and outputs associated with the process of research (e.g., formal publications, data, methodologies and protocols, software that encapsulates methods and analysis, and even results of “failed” experiments)

a system of sharing that enables, for example, researchers working in a lab in Brazil to access not only published work but also the complete experimental protocols and results from labs (perhaps in real time)

How can we make institutional repositories more open? How about self-contributions? Even if institutional repositories are moving in the direction of open access, could they also serve as an index for non-open access work so that they are truly comprehensive?


application developer and as a supporting hub for developers across the globe

a bold redesign that will allow the Libraries to operate as an open, trusted, durable, interdisciplinary, interoperable content platform that provides a foundation for the entire life

cycle of information for collaborative global research and education

lead in the development and deployment of tools, systems, and services that will support emerging methods of scholarly inquiry

Recent exemplars of the broader notion of discovery we seek to emulate are services like Netflix, Last.fm, and Spotify

Yes! Last.fm is so on target.

These services offer the ability to discover content of interest by mining and analyzing their content across a number of parameters, analyzing the playlists and consumption patterns of an individual user, matching those patterns across the network of all users, and algorithmically recommending new content of potential interest

improved search and recommendation engines will more precisely target discovery, reminded frequently of the nonlinear path of academic discovery, in which serendipity plays a crucial role--toolmakers should make use of this observation and consider ways to enhance browsing and serendipity in a digital environment

Privacy and freedom from tracking are important values, yet we recognize that effective methods of discovery and use, as well as research into discovery and use, will benefit from some level of sharing of use patterns. A combination of safeguards, including anonymization and opt-in/opt-out provisions, should be considered in discussion with appropriate stakeholders.

investing in a large-scale digitization program

ability to create unique sets of images for their own research and teaching, enhance or otherwise manipulate those images, annotate them locally or share them with colleagues performing similar research elsewhere, and link them to other resources held locally or as part of a broader scholarly network

Similar issues across all types of media.


recommit to leveraging their spaces, collections, policies, services, tools, resources, and internal culture and practices to promote inclusion, diversity, equity, social justice, and openness

places where students might be especially free and comfortable asking questions, seeking help, experimenting with nascent ideas and thoughts, and making mistakes

support wellness and unplug spaces?

spaces for a full range of activities, including quiet contemplative study, noisy collaborative work, departmental and community events, and informal, unplanned conversations with

colleagues, new modes of instruction and collaboration

judgment-free inquiry and exchange

open as possible to the public, and should be inclusive, welcoming, and safe

configuring physical library spaces to maximize productive research and learning and to enhance community building

undergraduates increasingly expect easy online discovery and access for scholarly materials, many prefer to work with tangible materials for some types of study and research tasks

strive to make all resources available digitally, many resources must also be available in physical formats

Earlier this morning our suspicions were confirmed that the main library on campus is a place to see and be seen. As undergraduate students we would have hated it and avoided it at all costs for that very reason. So, that got us thinking what would get us to use that type of space and actually interact with the people in it?

How about data visualizations of what conversations were happening in group study areas. Take it one step further and include a code for collaboration. In essence, we could check the data visualization, see what conversations interested us, check if they were open to collaboration, and go join them.


teach skills required to responsibly generate new knowledge and to create the platforms, systems, and networks to disseminate it

library-run educational opportunities might include course-based instruction, drop-in workshops, Independent Activities Period courses, online courses and modules, and more

courses in privacy, copyright, digital publishing, open access publishing, and data management