New Models and New Horizons Blog Post

In reflecting on the New Models module, the quote Professor Stephens shared by Eric Klinenberg at the beginning of his lecture really resonated with me. “Libraries are changing: Palaces of the people” (Stephens, 2020). This is how I’ve always thought of libraries. From the largest and most ornate library, to the smallest and most humble library, these are palaces. It reminded me of Andrew Carnegie’s funding of public libraries in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Carnegie donated 60 million dollars to build 1,689 public libraries across the country. (Stamberg, 2013). He believed that a library was of the upmost importance to the survival of any community. Carnegie is famously quoted as saying “A library outranks any other one thing a community can do to benefit its people. It is a never failing spring in the desert” (Carnegie, n.d.). All this to say, libraries have long been thought of palaces, and as society continues to evolve, the library continues to be a palace to its community. 

However, today these palaces are doing more than housing a physical collection. They are reinventing themselves with new models to meet a variety of community needs. Libraries are inclusive spaces for everyone. Therefore everyone has the right to find something of interest or help to them in libraries. For example, libraries are incorporating so many different interactive elements. Maker spaces, recording studios, digitization stations, and creative writing or comic seminars are just some of the things that libraries are doing to make the library a “living space” where learning is always happening. I was also really moved by the story Professor Stephens shared in the lecture about the library that was offering personal care products in their community closet (Stephens, 2020). Breaking down barriers allowing libraries to excel as a social service entity, as well as a knowledge entity serves to illustrate the important space the library occupies in a community. 

In reflecting on the New Horizons module, it made me think a lot about how I use virtual assistants such as Alexa in my home. We have one in our family room, and mostly use it to play music or ask questions. Because technology evolves so quickly, it will be interesting to see how these virtual assistants or artificial intelligence could be utilized in libraries. Especially as libraries continue to be spaces of mindfulness, contemplation, and relaxation for so many in the community.

Professor Stephens proposed adopting virtual assistants a certain manner in the library. “I’d suggest libraries of all types should incorporate virtual assistant speakers and the like into technology classes, one-on-one support offerings, and discussions about privacy” (Stephens, 2018). I agree with this proposal. The adoption of virtual assistants into technology classes could open up the library to a whole new patron population who may not have visited the library otherwise. For example, people who are experiencing this technology for the first time and want to learn more about it.

Furthermore, AI technology has the potential to positively impact libraries in the next few years. Examples of AI use in library services could take the form of cataloging practices. This technology could be utilized in digitization projects. “AI systems can be trained to recognize locations from a single photograph—including where the photographer was standing—based on angle, geography, and other factors. These systems can be enormously useful in making the processing and cataloging of archives and collections more discoverable” Griffey, 2019). While some in our profession are concerned that the adoption of this technology will decrease patrons use of library services, when used in the right manner I believe it will increase the use of library services. If libraries continue to evolve with technology, not because they feel they need to, but because that technology has a useful and practical application in assisting patrons and streamlining services, people will gain the opportunity to experience libraries in a whole new way. 


Good Reads (n.d.).

Stephens, M. (2018). Flash Briefing | Office Hours.

Stephens, M. (2020). New Models. Retrieved from

Griffey, J. (2019). AI and Machine Learning: The challenges of artificial intelligence in libraries.

Stamberg, S. (2013). How Andrew Carnegie Turned His Fortune Into A Library Legacy.

Published in: on March 23, 2020 at 1:29 am  Comments (6)  

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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. What a cool idea to use AI in the library! I agree with you that it will not decrease our user base…it just changes the opportunities for engagement. If the machine in my house can tell me facts or answer “reference questions” – we are open to do more teaching and programming that goes beyond “look it up” services. It is fun to think about!

  2. I love the Carnegie quote about libraries being a spring in a desert! They feel that way to me, too!

    I’m not sure what to think about AI devices like Alexa in the library. That would be amazing. There would have to be a way to guarantee patron confidentiality. It would be cool if a philanthropist invented one with libraries in mind that wasn’t related to a business (like Amazon) so that libraries could determine how information was managed.

  3. I agree with you! I think that how we implement tech into the library will determine how the library sustains itself. We must find ways to use tech in a way that supports the mission of learning while also keeping that human touch alive. A few months back I took my kids to the local library and found there was a large group of dogs laying near the children’s section. It turn’s out, they are dogs training to be emotional support animals and this was part of their education. It was something that reinforced the human (or animal) side of the library. No matter how much tech we get, we have to make sure we have balance.

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