A LinkedIn post today drew me back to Seth Godin's May 2011 post "The future of the library."
Six years on, Godin is perceptive: "Librarians that are arguing and lobbying for clever ebook lending solutions are completely missing the point. They are defending library as warehouse as opposed to fighting for the future, which is librarian as producer, concierge, connector, teacher and impresario." (Bold mine)
Indeed, this remains the dominant mode in many library discussions -- the value of paper, and how we get people back into the library building even when they have more efficient (which is not the same as more accurate) information delivery systems elsewhere. Some librarians still want users to operate as though the web had never been invented.
Some but not all. Indeed, I would argue that most librarians have long since come to terms with the digital age and are seeking to reinvent themselves. Since Godin's original post appeared, many libraries have built maker-spaces and otherwise reinvigorated their physical plants.
But these are still outliers. The dominant conception of what a library is and ever will be, often within the profession and certainly without, is of a warehouse for books. Scott's lecture predicted that a fully digital culture is still two generations away; if so, it is not surprising that things still feel the same a mere six years later.
I italicized "and certainly without" above, because a huge challenge is that library patrons still like the warehouse model. Or at least enough of them do to cause trouble whenever a librarian attempts to assert that they are an information professional rather than a warehouse manager.
This dynamic is why the New York Public Library had to shelve (pun intended) its plan to move books to off-site storage a few years ago, and it is why paper molders on unused stacks throughout the country. Hardly anybody wanders those stacks, ever, but take them away and the rage comes out. This is not so surprising, as humans do not like change. But the next time you walk into a library that appears that it has not changed since 1950, don't fault the librarian. The truth, as usual, is more complicated.