Mr Kemp NZ

The Library of the Future

Back in April I wrote a blog post about “Teaching the Class of 2025“, my opinions on what I think the classroom of 2025 would look like, feel like and sound like (click here to read).

I had some amazing feedback on this blog post that got me thinking and reflecting on what I wrote. One response in particular was related to my comments on Libraries from Karen Clarke, a Library Manager at St Patrick’s College in Wellington, New Zealand.

In the blog post I said:

“Libraries and Books will be no more – I have already noticed the move away from this in the past few years. Everything once available in a library, is now accessible online – an entire library is literally able to be held in the palm of your hand. Copyright issues are quickly being sorted and companies like Google are working through logistics to ensure all paper material is available to be accessed online. Libraries will be replaced with quiet shared spaces to connect your device. Online books are even interactive which means you can read about Ancient China and feel like you are working on the Great Wall, all within your device”.

In response to this comment Karen got in touch with me and I was so inspired and excited by what she told me that I asked her to write a response blog post. Here is her response:

The Library of the Future

In 2025 the library will still be the main hub of the school. In truth the library of 2025 will not be that much changed from today’s libraries. In all libraries I have worked in, be it public or school libraries they have been multi-use facilities. The library of 2025 will have these qualities:

  1. A venue for research – Students, even though they will have their own devices, will still need to be guided through the myriad of information available. They will also need to be taught to be digital citizens (for more information on this click here).
  2. Venue for reading – Will we all be reading books online? That is up to the publishers but human beings still like to browse, to see books, touch books, sit and read slowly and deeply. Books will be on shelves. A text rich environment is still important for learning. Students like to peruse the shelves, the beauty of reading is where your reading will take you.
  3. The library will be flexible – Tables, chairs and shelves will move to fit in with what is required by teachers and students. Screens, TV’s and whiteboards will follow the students as they study. Areas will be designated for quiet study, something that students still say they want. Rooms will be available for movie making, recording of school projects and collaborative work. The day in the library will be longer as students and teachers use the library as needed. Before school, after, during holidays and even the weekends as required. For more information on Learning Spaces click here to read about “Transforming Learning Spaces” by classroom furniture expert Grant van der Kruk.
    furnware library1
    Image by Karen Clarke 2015
  4. Librarians will continue to be technology experts – Libraries will be used for teachers professional development, student learning and wider community technology training.
  5. Libraries will still be neutral places – Libraries have always been there for everyone. Libraries are open to all and have been places where people who otherwise have felt unsafe at school will find their place. Libraries have often been places of refuge for students who have not found their niche in school. This will not change in the future.
  6. 1:1 libraries – Not just 1:1 devices for all students but 1:1 libraries for all students. Every child that does not have access to a library is disadvantaged. There are many reasons some schools in New Zealand do not have a library. But all schools need to have access to such a dynamic learning resource run by an equally dynamic educating librarian.


I am not naïve to believe that all is right in the library sector at the moment. I know not all libraries have been created equal or all librarians. But instead of getting rid of an environment that works I think we should build an even better library. By supporting libraries we support our students and our communities. I for one think the future needs great libraries.


For more information on this please see the following articles:

Thank you to Karen for her response and for inspiring me to think more broadly about the classroom of the future. Please share this and respond with your thoughts on the Library of the Future.




library1Image by Karen Clarke 2015



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Craig Kemp

Craig Kemp

I am a passionate Global EdTech Consultant based in Singapore but working with Schools and EdTech companies all over the world. I am a lifelong learner, dream creator and thought leader. I love to inspire others and find inspiration. Co-founder of #whatisschool, #asiaED edchats and #pubPD.

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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Hi Craig,

    As a fellow librarian I appreciate Karen’s well-worded points about libraries of the future, she has done a great job in responding to your initial comments. I would like to thank you for being open to reflecting on your ideas and sharing her post on your blog.

  • “Libraries and books will be no more…” You’re killing me (as a writer and a bookworm and an educator and a library employee)! Karen had some great points (librarians tend to be an unbendable force, and will do more that “shush” you), but I’d like to add a few comments of my own. I am not a librarian, but I am a writer, a college instructor, and work in a library that I think is at the forefront of the library of the future ( Our local library system has built (to quote your words) “an even better library,” and in doing so, paved the way for other libraries, other communities, other patrons.

    Libraries are about access to information, and as we step into the digital age, libraries are needed MORE, not less.

    The format of the information may change, but the necessity for the library / librarian will not. The library is a place of equality where *everyone* can access information. You don’t have to have internet access, or a computer, or a digital device to access information at a library. You’re not limited by socioeconomic status or education level. You don’t have to have a wad of cash of a Visa card or an expense account. And thanks to some amazing people, access isn’t limited to information, but equipment. The library of the 21st century is about creative spaces that don’t require a million dollar investment. Our library has recording studios, maker spaces, computer labs, classes and lectures and concerts and open public spaces (we don’t “filter” people) and last, but not least, books in whatever form you prefer.

    Libraries evolve, but they continue to provide access to everyone, information to everyone, and the need for that access, that freedom, that information… it will never end.

    Thank you so much for engaging in the conversation.

    • Thank you so much for your passionate response – I wrote this to provoke a discussion and I am pleased it is being used to improve peoples understanding of such an important space in our schools and community 🙂

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