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Afterword - Kevin Clark - Reflections on the Future of Public Libraries

Libraries are a foundational resource for our communities and our democratic society. As libraries become more connected resource centers, new roles can emerge.

Participating in the Aspen Institute’s “Beyond Connectivity” roundtable in raw and rainy Sacramento during December 2018, I warmed to several ideas we discussed. Most poignant is the new capacity of libraries to be a place for creators and makers, in addition to being a refuge and resource for seekers of information and knowledge. As new tools for creation are appearing, the ability to tap into global resources and then share what’s created is enhanced with bandwidth.

California is blessed with CENIC and its forward-thinking connections and collaboration that are made possible by bountiful bandwidth. CENIC helps redefine physical space with an overlay of globally connected place—library as the smartest place in town. With the demise of local newspapers, libraries can become the home for new citizen journalists as the chroniclers of the community—with libraries functioning as publishers and archivists of the life and times of the regions they serve.

Presence is expanding, too with libraries serving as spots to vote, perches to plan, and as centers of competency and coordination in disasters. “Individuals in a quiet place” is giving way to “connections in a common space” enabling communities to fully flex toward collaborating and placemaking.

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