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D-Lib Magazine
April 2006

Volume 12 Number 4

ISSN 1082-9873

Change and the Need for Innovation

The best-managed libraries have always been open to innovation and change, and as a result those libraries have maintained their relevance and usefulness to information seekers in the communities they serve. I described one such library in a recent editorial about how that library has evolved from housing and circulating a largely print collection to one that now provides access to and services based almost exclusively on digital content that is delivered to its users at their own desktops.

At the Computers in Libraries conference in Washington, DC, last month, one of the themes was the need for libraries to embrace change and innovate in order to meet the need of a new generation of users – the "Millennials" (those born after 1982) – who expect that information they seek will be instantly available anyplace, anytime, and preferably via a mobile device1. One speaker cautioned that if libraries don't adapt to serve the needs of the "Millennials" now, libraries will lose that potential user base forever.

At the other end of the generational spectrum, libraries need to find new ways to address the special needs of the "Baby Boomers" (those born between the years 1946 and 1964). On April 12, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) issued a press release announcing a new report, Designs for Change: Libraries and Productive Aging, which serves as a "Call to Action" to libraries to both serve and engage a generation unlike any previous one in its desire for lifelong learning and community activism.

And putting aside the issue of the particular information needs and demands of specific generations, there is the rapidly changing Internet information landscape sometimes referred to as Web 2.02 to consider. In this issue of D-Lib, you will find an opinion by Paul Miller that takes the Web 2.0 concept a step further in advocating for libraries to become engaged in what he terms Library 2.0, which "captures notions of disruptive change, and promises to challenge both the ways in which we consider our library services and the forms in which they are offered to potential beneficiaries." Also in this issue is a commentary by Lorcan Dempsey about how, in a network environment, libraries can leverage their rich collections to make the content of those collections more widely accessible.

Numerous challenges face libraries and other information organizations in this time of rapid change in both technology and culture. However tempting it may be to cling to the current ways of doing things, we need to embrace change and innovate to meet these new challenges.

Bonita Wilson


1. See also, "Life Online: Teens and technology and the world to come." Speech by Lee Rainie, Pew Internet Life and American Life Project, to the annual conference of Public Library Association, Boston, March 23, 2006. Available at < and technology.pdf>.

2. O'Reilly, Tim. "What Is Web 2.0: Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software" September 30, 2005. <>.

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