The World Future Society recently featured Syracuse University School of Information Studies (iSchool) Professor David Lankes in an interview about the future of libraries. Although traditional libraries are losing relevance in today’s digital age, Lankes believes librarians are more important than ever, which he discusses in his new book, The Atlas of New Librarianship.

“The reason the book focuses on librarians, not on libraries, is that it’s the people in them that make something happen,” Lankes said in the interview. “I predict that the future is going to be fewer libraries and more librarians. The facility is transitioning from places where librarians do their work to places where communities meet and gather. The physical space is simply where the librarians sit. The electronic medium is where they can research and read.”

Lankes reasons that although physical libraries may be decreasing, the increase in digital knowledge and information requires additional management. The way people think of libraries will also change in the near future.

“If you look at libraries as a physical collection of stuff, it’s a horrible thing. They’re out of business,” Lankes said. “On the other hand, if you look at libraries’ mission as to increase the knowledge of their communities, it’s a wonderful thing. If your ideal scenario is knowledge building, then the more information that’s available in more modes, the better.”

R. David Lankes, PhD, is a professor at the iSchool, the Director of the Information Institute of Syracuse (IIS), as well as director of the school’s library science program. Lankes received his BFA (Multimedia Design), MS in Telecommunications, and Ph.D. from Syracuse University. Lankes joined the iSchool faculty in 1998. More recently, Lankes has helped transform the IIS from a production-oriented organization to a library think tank.

Lankes has authored, co-authored or edited fifteen books, written over 30 book chapters and journal articles and numerous pieces for the professional audience. He has been principle investigator on over $13 million of competitively awarded research as well as serving as a researcher on numerous projects. He has been a keynote speaker around the globe, and given over 187 presentations at national and international conferences.