Power Tools: The Libraries of the Future

“It’s in the nature of books that the vast majority of books any given person owns will not be in use at any given time. Under the circumstances, establishing vast municipal stockpiles of books for people to borrow is much more efficient than relying on a series of household stockpiles. But over time digital technology is eroding this rationale (the day has not yet come when every individual is equipped with a smartphone or tablet capable of reading e-books but it’s quite foreseeable), and it makes more sense to shift away from stockpiling of books and toward things like the Oakland Public Library’s tool lending program. I have a hammer, several scredrivers, a power drill, a hacksaw, and a bunch of other tools that I’m almost never using and households all over DC are in this very same position. The most successful libraries we be the ones who spend less time thinking “how do I extend my traditional reading-and-learning mission into the digital age” and more time thinking “what sort of club goods are being underprovided thanks to transaction costs, enforcement problems, and information issues.”

via Slate

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