In a session at last weekend's Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) conference billed as “not for the faint of heart,” University of Guelph (Ontario, Canada) librarian and chief information officer Michael Ridley challenged librarians to imagine the library of the future—the very, very distant future.
In a talk that had Star Trek fans among the audience brimming with enthusiasm, Ridley spoke of a “post-literate” future in which man and machine meld seamlessly together. Ridley got right to the point. “What we do is toast,” he told the audience. “Are reading and writing doomed? The answer is an unequivocal yes.”
Ridley entertained his audience with a James Cameron-like vision of the future, where borgs, bio-computing, advances in brain research, the “hive mind,” and advances in pharmacology would one day—although not one day soon—undo the need to read, write, manage, or organize information as we now know it. Want to learn French? One day you will just take a pill, he suggested.