Memory. That’s what has been in my mind these past few days. Libraries as memory. Places where the production of human imagiation is made available- poorly sometimes, but available nevertheless.
But other institutions/functions can act as communal memory, especially with storage becoming ever cheaper. Mass digitisation holds out the promise of maintaining current ‘memory’, and social computing the promise of memorising ‘now.’ There are issues around rights, access and so on, but it is to be hoped that these will be worked out.
So if the storage, describing and holding out of human memory does not require libraries, what role can they play in it? Going back to earlier answers, I see their role as being a place- and ultimately that could be a Second Life type virtual place- where people can not only share, but also set their memories in a wider context.
I would still hope for a physical library, to encourage physical meetings- with all the fraught compromises of being human which that implies.