There is, however, more to the digital world than loaning ebooks. Engaging with readers through digital means is one of the ways in which libraries will stay relevant in the future. Online book groups, skyping author events, a vast catalogue of samples and author interviews, sharing book reviews and recommendations online are all ways of reaching new readers and engaging with existing ones. Building communities and understanding the consumer, whilst at the same time, raising awareness of library services, books, authors and reading in general. Nonetheless many barriers are still to be overcome, which need to be worked through in order to have a modern library service. Many library authorities have primitive technological capabilities, such as websites embedded in local authority websites preventing the use of certain technologies. Many others are even banned from using social media – already a major way of engaging with the local community of readers. “Skills Development” is the area our project is concentrating on. Publishers hold a wealth of skills and knowledge in the digital sphere and matching that with librarians’ knowledge of their own community will assist in building a modern service offering. There is a long way to go, however, in overcoming the challenges facing libraries in the digital world, which will require investment, a good look at social media policies and continued support and training of staff.
‘Communities’ is the buzz word in the publishing industry right now – building audiences for authors, connecting readers with authors, and direct to consumer engagement. Libraries already play a pivotal role in this and keeping up with modern and future ways of engaging with the communities will be essential to remain relevant in the future.