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Tuesday Keynote: Innovating, Experimenting & Building a Future of Libraries in a Digital Environment

Greg Lucas

Greg Lucas

Greg Lucas, State Librarian of California, was the Tuesday keynote speaker. He is optimistic about the future.

He began with some background information on California:

  • We know that nearly all Californians are immigrants, some arrived more recently than others. Where did they come from? Everywhere. Today, 30% of Californians were born in a foreign country–the most of any state.
  • California had a constitution before it was a state, and it was drafted here in Monterey. (It became a state in 1850.)
  • Every governor since 1849 has said that the state government wastes taxpayer money.
  • At least 20% of Californians will be over 60 in a few years.

Libraries make California an awesome state. It has 1,100 libraries, the most of any state. Diversity is California’s biggest asset. There are over 300 languages and dialects spoken in California. It is the first state in the nation with a white minority. California’s libraries reflect its diversity.

The internet is going to keep changing everything in the future. It has made libraries and librarians more important. There are more books published than ever before–2.7 billion last year, of which 510 million were e-books. Net revenues for this were $28 billion.

The world of social media is expanding exponentially. There is a whole potential with virtual reality to change how we train people. Will there be laptops  in 10 years, or we going to have goggles? Emails have become passé (Boston College stopped issuing email addresses to their students 6 years ago).

Libraries have maker spaces where people are creating innovative things. The usual attendees are 14 to 18 year-olds. We live in a library economy; in 90 years, 90 million people will live in California. Part of our challenge now is the sanitized politically correct language we have to use.

The State Library is California’s equivalent of the Library of Congress. For example, it has diaries of original wagon trains, a Shakespeare first folio, 1500 incunabula, and King James’s prayer book. It is celebrating its centennial this year. and is helping to reduce the number of people who can’t read a story, or who have a literacy issue. The most cost-effective way to spend a taxpayer dollar is to use it to teach somebody to read at least at a 3rd grade level.

Libraries are the complete opposite of government; they are nimble and fast. But people don’t realize that libraries are part of government. An answer to government is rigidity is to visit local libraries. What we see in libraries makes us optimistic about the future; they are good for the government’s bottom line. They are the happy places. Lots of small things are happening in libraries; they are the most welcoming place for the most disadvantaged people. They can help anybody access the web’s information and are an essential part of the public education system. The State Library is trying to put a card into the hands of every student.


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