Hi. It’s been a while now, and I thought I should get you up to speed on what has happened around here. It’s 2022, and the kind of library you’d recognise doesn’t really exist anymore, but library services thrive! It’s incredible to see how much we’ve changed, since the new lending rights were set up and since the introduction of the Mirasol readers: our shelving units have become arrays of technology that anyone can tap into. And the buildings we work in are so much more spacious, alive.
Our staff don’t issue books any more, books issue themselves as people read them. Staff don’t sign up people either, since everyone is issued a library card at birth. The library card is the key to public services now.
And who was it that unified all the library catalogues in the UK? That was a stroke of genius, and so simple: no more petty differences and ridiculous multiple costs. How many acquisition departments and senior managers did we use to have? Do you remember? Still, we do retain our identity.
And these buildings, you should see them: they’re heaving with people who trust our expertise. There is so much on offer: culture and life skills, democracy in action and public health, art and employment, economic development and poetry. And at the centre of all this?
Do you remember when we used to call ourselves ‘librarians’?
I tell you something that happened to me today. This chap got in, all flustered and waiving his library card. Gets the eReader off the shelf and goes straight to a colleague pointing at the screen: ‘Look, … read, … look. …I wrote this. I wrote this sitting right here, … I wrote it on my phone. D’you know how many people read it? More than two million people. People actually read what I wrote. … I actually wrote something that people read. I don’t believe it myself. And they like it. They want more. I want to sit here and continue to write for ever … This could change my life!’. Well, perhaps our job has not changed that much over the years. And people still call this place a ‘library’ anyway.