If I were to play a word-association game with you, and I said the word "library," how would you respond?
Would you say something about books? Librarians? The story hour from your childhood that cemented your love of reading? How about ereaders? ESL conversation groups? Downloadable audiobooks? Database access? Classical music concerts? Internet access? Study and community meeting space?
I could keep going, but the point is that, while your first association with the library may be books, a variety of factors -- cultural, economic, demographic, and technological -- have contributed to the library's evolution into something much more diverse and vibrant than simply a warehouse for ink-on-paper.
The exciting, and perhaps daunting, part of this reality is that the library's evolution will march on unabated. New technologies and new populations of library members, some of which we can barely imagine at the moment, will continue to inform how the library's collections and services will change over time.
So the question becomes, what does the library of the future look like? We can approach this question with a view toward different horizons -- five, ten, twenty-five, fifty or one hundred years from now. What's important, though, is that we work together, library staff and community members alike, to create (and re-create) a future for this institution we all love.