I went into a local supermarket today. At the meat market where one person was tending to the display and to cutting the meats for customers yet to be, I asked for a few pounds of salmon fillet.
Then the thought suddenly occurred to me, in light of recent cutbacks of workers in the food workers industry the thought that one day in the very near future you and I may be helping ourselves to what's on display instead of having the man or woman behind the counter cut and weigh and pack and label our meats and cold cuts and other food service items. We may very well be having to do everything ourselves, from cutting and weighing our meats, making bar code labels for them and scanning them, and ultimately paying for them electronically without ever seeing one single grocery clerk or even manager.
Even the library could be changing.
Take this for example: You enter a library in what might be an entry, that will have automated reference screens that speak to you and let you ask for such things as how to get a new library card, or if there are any computer terminals currently open or soon to be open for on line use.
You can imagine how far this could go.
There might be a virtual map of the entire library, including sub levels and an aerial view of a 1 to 10 block radius area of the library with respect to all other buildings and their names just for you to have a clear understanding of your location, good for people just passing through from city to city on business or pleasure.
You might ask for a particular book based on title, subject or author and the computer would verbally reply as well as type out that your book is currently available on the 3rd floor and ask you for suggestions of other types of reading material that match either the author, title, or subject or all the above and it might then give you a list and also print the list for you so you could look for other books of similar subject and nature, but it would probably cost about a dollar by the time this type of technology had been implemented.
Then you go inside and there is a huge lobby with nothing but sofas and chairs and a few tables, and there are:
1. no homeless people with alcohol on their breath, carrying their life's possessions on their back in a back pack and bathing in the rest rooms.
2. no children running out of control.
but instead, the children are on another floor where their entrance in fact is at the other end of the library in the first place.
Also, you see vending machines for colas and chips or Dejablue water and wheat thins.
Beyond this vast open lobby is the entrance to the first floor of a 19 story library.
Now you begin to actually see what a library of tomorrow will look like.
There are long rows of computers and many rows of books.
The funny thing is, you can stand in one place, at a partitioned desk, in a comfortable chair, at a computer terminal that lets you seek books at the touch of a button or the touch of a screen, using the headsets provided, you can listen to the introduction, and with some tutorial assistance by the electronic virtual librarian navigate the entire library. Once you find your books you can get up off your duff, walk to the floor and the row where your books are and the shelf will blink a tiny digital light over the area your book is located.
Beyond all this, you get your books and skip going to the lecture hall and skip the cafeteria, and skip the chamber music that is all being presented on the upper levels at no cost, and you simply go to check out your books. Oh. where are the librarians?
You notice that this is not a library from the year 2005, but rather a library of tomorrow, a time in the not too distant future. There are no librarians in this library. You have only to scan your card, enter your pin, then scan your books and disks and wait a few seconds for authentication, which means your picture has been taken by a digital camera and your weight is taken at this exact place where you are standing.
You go out to the exit, wait for a few seconds because the doors are locked and you can't just walk out the door. Too simple. You have to get authenticated once more. You see, sometimes you might check out your reading material and other items and decide you don't yet want to leave the library so you can in fact walk around and spend the next 8 hours in the library before you leave, but in any case, you will only be able to leave the library when authentication computers take your weight and verify your face with facial recognition technology, and then if all is well and good, the door will open automatically and wait for you to get outside before closing and locking once more so as not to crush you between the very strong and bullet resistant doors.
In such a library there might be a need to ask questions of somebody, an actual person, because you might have to use the bathroom and there might be none open or none with paper so you might have to call a library helper. A library helper is an advanced version of a librarian because such a person is employed by the library for the following job duties:
3. bathroom supplies replenishment
4. book returns
5. camera observation
6. police surveillance and law enforcement
7. courtesy and empathy to all library patrons
8. code compliance
9. computer diagnostics
10. and so on.
You can page any of 30 such library helpers at any time and you can expect an immediate response.
but, if you are the type who just simply is a busy body and calls the helpers too often you may get a printed reprimand in your mailbox or inbox via the internet in the next 10 days or sooner.
The purpose of not having personnel just hanging out at the check out area is simple, while they are staying in one place too long it is mentally and physically draining and it will not do for security reasons. In the past, or rather, today, USA. 2005, too many books, tapes, dvd's vhs, cd's and magazines are being stolen right under the library's nose and worse, the drunken bums who smoke in the bathrooms, bath in the bathrooms, change their clothes in the bathrooms, sleep at the reading tables, setting on the benches asleep, smelling like a dumpster and all that has got to stop!
The library of the very near future will not put up with any of these shenanigans!
The library of the very near future will in fact be the gateway to a new age of prosperity and vision.
Below the library on the lowest level, sub level 6, there is a great subterranean future path that leads throughout miles and miles of the downtown area.
You can take a walk on such a future path to the next main structure or to an underground theater or to a light rail station and from there go back home.
Forget about driving. No need to drive in a city of tomorrow.
Such a city has cars but the immediate inner city will be so densely populated that it will be necessary to walk to a terminal to ride a bus, or ride a light rail and walk the rest of the way, but beyond that there would be peripheral parking areas that surround part of the north and part of the south side of the inner city where you could walk to from the very center in about 30 minutes and then drive home on the many future paths of that time period, in the not too distant future.
Just another vision of tomorrow by Anthony Davis :)