This past month, Bob Edwards has been airing a fascinating, multi-part program series on NPR titled, "Shhhh...Libraries at Work!" In the series, he speaks with current ALA President Roberta Stevens about how libraries have changed over the past 20 years and about their struggles to keep up with customer demand in the wake of slashed budgets; he explores prison library systems and their positive effects on inmates; and he studies school library systems--which also face closure and under-funding--and how they are changing to meet the needs of 21st-century students.
It's a fascinating series, and I encourage everyone to listen. Each program is available for free download as a podcast from iTunes, or you can listen here (though you'll have to scroll through other Bob Edwards Show segments to find the "Shhhh... Libraries at Work! series).
In what ways have you noticed libraries change over your lifetime? What do you see when you envision your ideal 21st century library?