The once and future library: will there be, and what might a research library look like in 2030?
The purpose of a (research) library is to facilitate knowledge creation. While this mission has remained unchanged throughout the centuries, the way libraries deliver it has constantly evolved. Over the last decades, this evolution has accelerated so much that it arguably constitutes a revolution. Before the Internet, a library was defined as a building that provided access to print content. Now you can envisage a library service that operates completely online and does not own any content as such, be it print or digital. Arguably, for unaffiliated researchers the Internet, as discovered through Google, already constitutes such a library service and therefore a challenge for our identity and possibly even existence. If you fast-forward current developments, such as the open science agenda, and add emerging ones, such as artificial intelligence, this challenge will only become stronger. Along with other sectors, libraries respond to changes in user needs and behaviours by moving from a content (collections) paradigm to a service-based one. Starting with reflections on the purpose of libraries, this paper will try to envisage the 2030 scholarly knowledge environment and discuss which future library services may have in it.