Author provides the world’s librarians insight on how to develop a "brain gain"
Co-author of new “Seizing Our Destiny” book outlines strategies to keep libraries as key information centres in the digital age
Mexico City, Mexico Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) co-founder Louis Zacharilla is in Mexico City to help draft a future Trend Report to serve as a guidebook for the world’s libraries and the services they need to provide the public. There are an estimated 315,000 public libraries in the world and Zacharilla joins an elite group of global experts to provide the libraries with a vision of the next five years. The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) brought the experts together to map out the major emerging trends in contemporary society that will affect access to information and help libraries determine what they need to do to keep their traditional position as centres of information. The IFLA is the global voice of the library and information profession with members in over 150 countries.
“For the first time in human history, people are able to live anywhere they wish and at the same time participate in the global economy thanks to communications networks. As a board member of the Metro New York Library Council I know that libraries play a crucial role in the information age. They are also an important part of the strategies employed by ICF Intelligent Communities,” says Zacharilla.
The Intelligent Community Forum studies and promotes the best practices of the world's Intelligent Communities as they adapt to the demands and seize the opportunities presented by information and communications technology (ICT).
Libraries drive economic development, whether it is supporting entrepreneurs in Vietnam, providing vital health information in Nepal and Kenya, or helping citizens to be engaged, informed, and involved in Honduras and Romania. The 21st century library is no longer just about books or solely a place for kids. A 2012 survey of more than 7,000 libraries in the U.S. revealed their changing role. The key services from libraries now include computer training, electronic job search skills, how to access online databases, how to deal with e-government and in 62.1 per cent of communities libraries are the only source of free public access to computers.
Historically, library usage has increased during economic downturns. The use of services such as computer workstations and technology training increased 30 to 70 per cent between 2011 and 2012. The U.S. survey revealed that communities have come to rely more heavily on libraries as Internet access centers.
In a keynote address at the start of the IFLA Presidential Meeting on March 6 Zacharilla will address librarians from around the globe about the rise of the Intelligent Community, how ICT has eliminated the concept of being in the "middle of nowhere" and how libraries can enable a brain gain in their own community. “Using ICF strategies a growing number of communities have found their way back to economic prosperity after being given up for ‘dead’. The stakes are extremely high for the smaller communities and cities to get it right and to harvest their natural and embedded intelligence,” says Zacharilla.
Zacharilla is co-author of a new book along with ICF colleagues Robert Bell and John Jung. “Seizing Our Destiny” was released in 2012 and profiles the world’s Top 7 Intelligent Communities from the 2012 award program operated by ICF.
“Seizing Our Destiny” reveals a broad range of successful actions that stimulate an economy. For example:
• A 10 per cent growth in broadband penetration adds 1-3 per cent to a country’s gross domestic product
• 80 per cent of GDP growth comes from the introduction of new technology
• 50 per cent of productivity improvements in the private sector come from the use of ICT
The IFLA meetings take place on the campus of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). The campus is home to Mexico’s Central Library as well as the National Library of Mexico. The city of Mexico supports libraries in the internet age, just four months ago the city opened the largest children’s library in Latin America, the Biblioteca BS-IBBY México. In addition a Mexico city community group operates a truck that is a mobile library showcasing more than a thousand books on the arts and contemporary visual culture plus Mexico City has the Biblioteca Vasconcelos, a vast library that is regularly noted on listings of the world’s most interesting libraries.