When Andrew Carnegie made grants to libraries in the C20th, he described them as ‘instruments for the elevation of the masses of the people’. Libraries were to provide access to learning and advancement for people who would otherwise have limited opportunities – specifically, for education and self-improvement. Carnegie intended, then, that the purpose of a library should be educational, and Carnegie envisaged a facility open to everyone in a community who wanted access to books and learning.
The Provision of access to information, knowledge and learning continues to characterise perceptions of the role of librarians in the C21st. And, although libraries are evolving to become read/write, providing access to multi-media and media manipulation tools, we’ve yet to see a thoroughgoing disruption of the C20th institutional boundaries of libraries. That is, we’ve yet to see established a bona fide #p2p platform for the purposes of knowledge exchange founded upon commons principles.