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Keeping up with the Library of the Future by Tracking Harvard Happenings

One institution does not our collective future make. But, I suggest that readers interested in envisioning and creating our academic libraries of the future should track what’s happening at Harvard. More on the history of the occupation can be found here http://occupyharvard.net/new-harvard-library-occupation/history-of-the-occupation/ (accessed 3 March 2012). Below I’ve pulled out those questions that demand, or should demand, our attention - - here in the “hinterlands,” a far cry from Cambridge, where we too are engaged in the process of thinking about our academic libraries of the future.

Burt first, what is occupation? And why Lamont? (Lamont is one of over 70 libraries at Harvard that comprise the Harvard library system, with combined holdings of over 16 million items. Lamont is the general undergraduate collection, including music, multimedia. and government information from around the world. For more on Lamont, check out http://hcl.harvard.edu/libraries/lamont/ ,[accessed 3 March 2012]).  Here, readers might substitute the name of their academic library, for example, “why Randall Library?” For those of you who think, “What me? No worries.” Think again.

Here are questions Harvard library staff are grappling with - -

  • What is a library? What does the library of the future look like?
  • What is the role of knowledge in promoting social equality and social justice?
  • What is “Occupy” and why does it matter? History, context, and ideas do indeed have relevance in terms of envisioning and designing our futures.
  • How to challenge hegemony within an institution designed to reproduce it? Here, librarians are exploring topics such as: the connection between the occupy movement and the labor movement, signs of the end of a neoliberal consensus, training in skills for activism and political organization, a glimpse into Harvard activism in the 70s, and the challenge of bringing librarians on board with the movement.
  • Where should Occupy Harvard go?
  • What is Occupy Harvard’s relationship with other Occupies both near and far?

The conversation continues at Harvard, and indeed, directly or indirectly, at academic institutions nationwide.  Tune in. It's important.