Technology and Libraries: Now & Into the Future #CILDC

Technology & Libraries: Now & Into the Future

Wednesday, April 29 2015
9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

thomasMary Augusta Thomas, Deputy Director, Smithsonian Libraries

As part of the Smithsonian libraries for more than 30 years, Thomas currently directs the operation of twenty libraries located in each of the Smithsonian’s museums and research institutes. In this talk, she reflects on the changes over those years and shares some of the future strategies for libraries.

  • Wrote information engineering
  • 20 libraries
  • Medievalist by training
  • Use the past to look to the future
  • Leave with more questions and strategies
  • John Palfrey: wants a library revolution
  • Knowing our history is important.
  • Smithsonian Castle
  • Great Auk sculpture
  • Knowledge management must include history.
  • 170 years of research and curation.
  • Smithson’s bequest.
  • Need the history of your institution
  • Increase and diffusion of knowledge – Smithsonian mission.
  • will create profiles of all of its scholars.
  • mission of libraries will not change, the mission statement and the way librarians accomplish their missions will change.
  • Embedded librarians
  • new mission statement
  • promotes new ideas through sharing.
  • dynamic role in research.
  • New African American Museum
  • Fully accessible library
  • Libraries support the mission.
  • lots of online collaboration
  • biodiversity heritage library – digital


  • future libraries will have highly developed skills to collaborate and cooperate.
  • Learn to tap into your community
  • Learn how they are learning.
  • Need to develop vocabularies based on people’s culture
  • Library print collections are moving from books on shelves to special collections.
  • 137 million objects
  • books used in daily research.
  • Library of the future will have print.
  • 2 million books, millions of documents
  • Olinweeta – had specimens in drawers.  found to be a separate species.
  • Tech will be important as librarians move into the future, as it has always been.
  • “What do you really want to know?”
  • Need to scan all parts of text.
  • Use descriptive means to add access points.
  • Librarians need to listen to their communities.
  • library as place will change.
  • might become information commons.
  • May be quiet place.
  • Librarian moving around
  • Whales and telescopes
  • Telescopes in Chile
  • Whales found when access roads were built.
  • whales photographed in 3 D.
  • Will be recreated at the Smithsonian
  • Magellan Telescope
  • Mirror for the array.