The Columbus Metropolitan Library recently asked its Facebook followers to give them ten words: five to describe the library of their youth and five to describe the library of the future, 20 years from now. Here are the word clouds they assembled from the results, starting with the libraries of their youth:
If you’re beyond your teenage years, I bet this retrospective word cloud will make sense to you. Now, how about this one, describing libraries of the future:
Surprised? Unless you’ve spent a fair amount of time in libraries recently, you probably are. But it turns out that the library enthusiasts from Columbus are illustrating a lot of what is happening in their hometown library system and in many other libraries around the country, right now.
I visited libraries recently in downtown Columbus, Ohio, and talked with Patrick Losinski, the CEO of the Columbus Metropolitan Library (CML) system, which includes the flagship main library and 21 branches around Franklin County. His title alone, CEO, should be a hint about how progressive the libraries of Columbus are, and how serious the city is about placing the libraries front and center in its trajectory toward a modern, relevant, connected city.
I walked to the library from the throwback Comfort Inn & Suites where we were staying, at the edge of German Village, one of Columbus’s historic, now trendy neighborhoods. (By the way, at Comfort Inn, be sure to look for Scott, the evening clerk. Ask him any mundane question about where to eat, visit, or wander around, and he will come back with a stunning 20-minute soliloquy including historical, architectural, culinary, economic, and literary information, which he delivers as rapid-fire as an auctioneer. Hurry, he probably won’t be there long.)