Report about “Libraries in the
21st Century” Salzburg Seminar:
October 23-30, 2004
von Mohammad Hossein Biglu (graduate student
studying for a doctorate)
The last decade has
posed momentous challenges and opportunities to libraries
worldwide, dramatically recasting the future for traditional
institutions and presenting complex choices for new organizations.
The rapidity of technological innovation and the quickly expanded
importance of electronic information not only forced libraries
to update their technical capacities, but to rethink their
Their traditional function remains unchanged; in most countries,
libraries remain institutions dedicated to preserving and
collecting the written word, to facilitating public access
to diverse sources of information and interpretation, and
to providing a resource for the education of future generations.
Around the world, libraries have emerged strengthened by this
period of transition, with a renewed sense of civic mission,
social responsibility and public purpose.
As cultural institutions, the need for vibrant libraries seems
more urgent than ever, yet the challenge of keeping libraries
relevant, fresh - and open - is constant.
How are libraries around the world adapting to changed circumstances
and to this renewed sense of their responsibilities?
How can librarians around the world learn from the experience
of librarians in different countries, and how can these institutions
be strengthened, sustained and created in areas where their
existence cannot and should not be taken for granted? What
challenges do libraries continue to face, and what strategies
exist for confronting the demands that the 21st century is
likely to place on these important cultural institutions?
The seminar exposed
participants to a global variety of perspectives and opinions
about the role of libraries in the 21st Century.
Participants had the opportunity to develop fresh perspectives
on libraries and their interrelationships with society as
a whole they informed their current and future work.
Furthermore, participants had the opportunity to develop new
international, professional networks and collaborations with
others who shared their commitment to creating the best possible
libraries for their communities.
Specifically, the session resulted in participants gaining:
• Exposure to new thinking about the role of libraries
and the needs of library users
• Deepened knowledge about selected best practices in
libraries on all continents
• Nuanced understanding of the interface between libraries
• Innovative approaches to library advocacy and the
development of local, regional,
national, and international structures for cooperation
• A global community of colleagues for future collaborations
intellectual dialogue, supported by the Salzburg Seminar’s