Last week, I was lucky enough to find myself in the fair city of Amsterdam in the company of several hundred Dutch librarians. I was addressing Bibliotheekplaza 2009, an annual convention of Dutch librarians focused on using the tools of the Web revolution to modernize libraries. Borrowing the wisdom of my Twitter buddies, I argued in my speech that while most libraries today do represent the most crusty and dusty of the ancien media regime, they also have a great opportunity to become the next-generation curators of digital information.
My audience of Dutch librarians agreed with my argument that, in the midst of today’s chaotic digital revolution, we need reliably curatorial libraries and libraries more than ever now. Like in Britain, librarians in Holland are under tremendous pressure to reform. Unlike in Britain or America, however, the Dutch, with their trademark foresight, are actively investing in libraries of the future. The two most innovatively interactive libraries in Holland are the central public libraries in Amsterdam and Delft both of which have both radically reinvented themselves for the new digital age.
At Bibliotheekplaza, I chatted with Rob Visser, the guy who has been driving the remarkable digital revolution at the Amsterdam public library. Instead of the dustiness and crustiness of the typical 20th century library, visitors to Amsterdam’s central public library will find not only books, but a restaurant as well as a children’s theatre and a public radio and television studio. The library, which is open every day from 10.00 am to 10.00 pm, also holds a series of cultural festivals – such as the upcoming week of poetry – which it then broadcasts on the Internet.
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