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Knowledge, Networks and the Public Library - Background Paper

Working Group member Joshua Kauffman, a design and technology consultant, prepared this thought paper for the Dialogue based on his work on the future of libraries at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. Kauffman highlights some of the key features of the knowledge society and explores how these trends and tensions necessarily lead to a reframing of the value of public libraries in the knowledge society. These trends include: public vs. private, scarcity and abundance, individual and the collective, institutions and networks, physical and virtual. His framework points to some of the key roles that public libraries can play as knowledge networks, as nodes on broader social and other networks, and as key institutions for addressing the new scarcities (digital literacies) and democratizing literacies in a world of information abundance.