Imagine a world without shelves

empty library shelves

Photo credit Salim Virji

Imagine, it’s not hard to do, a world where knowledge and information is off the shelves and available online at any hour in any community.

Where a stack is never closed to an open mind. Where the only access requirement is an e-reader, computer or smart phone. Where you don’t need an address for a library card, but only the address of a library catalogue, Community Books or Google.

A knowledge rich world, where sharing is more important than ownership.

Let the good incendiaries with charred fingers come! Here they are! Heap up the fire to the shelves of the libraries!

Futurist Manifesto

As librarians, we can realise the possibilities of a connected and open world. We can (metaphorically) burn the shelves and set the books free.

And in doing so achieve Goal 1f of the IFLA Strategic Plan 2010-2015:

encourage the library and information sector to work with partners and users to maximise the potential of digital technology to deliver services that enable seamless and open access by users to cultural and information resources


2 thoughts on “Imagine a world without shelves

  1. a noble dream indeed – but of course, requiring that every open mind has access to a smart phone, an e-reader, or a computer off site, for full accessibility.

    revolution, or reformation? burn some shelves, nay, one day soon when it’s fitting, most of them! we take our books hungrily from the internet in digital glory at our lazy leisure, downloading without exiting the our homes…

    but keep some too, for the children’s books and the colours on the paper, the tactility of the object, the pleasure of turning the page, the smell of the book, and the fact that you don’t need a smart phone in order to read a book. even as a nostalgic artefact, or because some people just won’t want to adapt, or because books too, are a lovely part of the library. call it nostalgic, or overly attached to the object, or a filthy hoarding impulse for the object, but i think most people like libraries to have books in them as well. the codex is beautiful. the building is beautiful. the space filled with books, it’s beautiful too.

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