Professor John Bertot
“People aren’t coming in for books, but instead for a range of services and programs,” he says. “That shift is making us rethink things like collections. We talk increasingly about bookless libraries.”
Bertot is principal investigator of a study funded by the American Library Society and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that is examining access to technology space in public libraries, and what libraries are doing with that space.
In the near future, Bertot expects that libraries offering passport services may also provide government travel information on visas. Or, he says, we might see public libraries working with state and federal employment resources so that people not only access job listings, but also get help with employment training.
iSchool graduates will play a role in these shifts, Bertot says. “We find that our students want this, to be of service to the community,” he says. “So we are incorporating diversity and service training into the curriculum, fully understanding that large segments of the public are coming to libraries increasingly with a life problem—they need information on health care, employment or disaster relief services, not just books.”