So it’s a new year and, like everyone else, libraries are looking at the writing on the wall. We are two or three years in to a market of web-ready devices that is competitive, arguably standardized, and affordable. Every quarter institutions are reminded that the web is increasingly liberated from the home office. The web is not just in your phones and tablets, but it’s in your scale, your fridge, your car. In his blog over at FAIL!LAB, Ryan Hess sums-up a year’s-worth of trendwatching by telling us that “The Library Website Will Disappear”. Prescient gems:

So, the way we gather information and where we go to get it is already changing. And the interfaces are already being revolutionized and that pace will accelerate dramatically over the next 5 years as voice and sight overtake the the very impractical and immobile keyboard…even the touchscreen may be reduced to the point where iPads seem like a whimsical dead-end much like 8 track or Beta tapes.

Mobile devices have changed all that. Not only do they steer away from typical web interfaces in favor of “apps,” they actually de-link parts of the web from each other. The result, in most cases is a much more curated and manageable Internet.

And this is important for libraries, whose pages are almost hard-wired around interconnecting pages together in rather daunting tangles of hyperlinks, portals and gateways.

I like this one:

The users 5 years from now that enter our libraries’ virtual spaces, will expect a curated, largely automated experience. Already, we see this on the ground where incoming students are completely beside themselves in the antiquated library environment.

I made the point in one of my talks that the effort to rethink the library’s website to go mobile-first and adaptive (I like “adaptive” better than “responsive”) is not to just be able to be accessed from the palm of your patron’s hand – that’s just a technicality. Rather, the process of #FFLY design liberates the content librarians provide so that through API’s it can be syndicated and targeted to the first round of Google Glasses and wetware wireless integrated in the human brain.

But I don’t think the website will disappear. The architecture, the “framework” the word “website” connotes is disintegrating, so that the Library (and other institutions) don’t have websites, but their presence on the web just is – like the inherent vision of libraries being about books.


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