Read for Later - “People at the local level in many places don’t feel that their life is improving, given the work they’re putting in and the investment they’re putting in.”

This week’s headline quotes Andre M. Perry, a fellow at the Brookings Institution who researches race and structural inequality, on the changing focus in cities from downtown redevelopment to neighborhood investments to address growing income disparities (The New York Times “As downtowns prosper, voters ask mayors: What about my neighborhood?”).

A note that we are already looking ahead to the 2020 Midwinter Meeting and the Symposium on the Future of Libraries (January 24 – 28, 2020, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania). We are currently accepting session proposals for the 2020 Symposium. First review of proposals will begin July 15th with a final closing date for proposals of August 15th. You can learn more from our press release.

You can always check out the Center's trend collection to see how this scanning comes together to identify trends relevant to our futures.

What new information has sparked your interest? Drop me a line to let me know what you're reading or discovering that helps you consider the future of libraries.

Five Highlights

Business Insider “Walmart reveals it's tracking checkout theft with AI-powered cameras in 1,000 stores”
Walmart is using computer vision technology to monitor checkouts and deter potential theft in more than 1,000 stores – the retailer’s Missed Scan Detection system uses cameras to help identify checkout scanning errors and failures and has helped limit theft and loss in stores.

Fortune “Facebook announces Project Libra, its wildly ambitious plan to bring cryptocurrency to the masses”
Facebook revealed its long-awaited cryptocurrency plans, announcing “Project Libra,” a new type of digital money designed for the billions of people using its apps and social network – working with dozens of companies and non-profit organizations that will together manage the currency through a Swiss foundation, users will be able to shop with and send the currency on Messenger and Instagram as well as with a wide variety of other merchants through a new digital wallet called Calibra. See also Reuters “U.S. lawmaker calls for Facebook to pause cryptocurrency project”

The New York Times “As downtowns prosper, voters ask mayors: What about my neighborhood?”
In many cities a downtown-neighborhood debate is playing out in the wake of efforts by local government to stem economic slides and population losses by heavily subsidizing development in downtown cores – city officials have managed to revamp parts of their urban landscapes, sparking the construction of new office towers, condominiums, and upscale businesses even as other neighborhoods, often those whose residents are mainly black or Hispanic, continue to lack basic amenities like grocery stores and restaurants.

San Jose Mercury News “Google pledges $1 billion to ease Bay Area housing crisis”
Google announced a $1 billion commitment to ease the Bay Area’s housing crisis, pledging to add about 20,000 homes across the region – the largest single commitment from a tech company to fight the housing shortage that threatens to stall the economic engine of Silicon Valley, the initiative comes as Google faces pressure (including a new report from Working Partnerships) to alleviate the impact of its rapid growth, particularly as it plans a transit-oriented mixed-use campus in downtown San Jose where 15,000 to 20,000 of its employees would work.

Fast Company “Madison is the first city to go 100% electric for its bike share”
BCycle, the local bike share in Madison, Wisconsin, will become the first citywide system in the U.S. to transition its fleet entirely to electric-assist bicycles – BCycle ran a pilot of its electric-assist bicycles in several cities and saw ridership rise anywhere from double to up to five times the number of trips when e-bikes were introduced.

Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence, and Learning Machines

GeekWire “White House rewrites AI research strategy to prioritize public-private partnerships”
The Trump administration is updating the Obama administration’s strategy for artificial intelligence to put more emphasis on public-private partnerships like the one forged between Amazon and the National Science Foundation – the NSF-Amazon collaboration on fairness in AI calls for an initial $7.6 million to be awarded to researchers in the form of three-year grants ranging from $750,000 to $1.2 million, with half the money provided by Amazon.

Cities and Government

The New York Times “Cities start to question an American ideal: A house with a yard on every lot”
Amid mounting crises over housing affordability, racial inequality, and climate change, a growing number of officials across the country are starting to consider and support policies that would end zoning exclusively for single-family homes – the effect of single-family zoning is far-reaching, with almost 75% of the residential land in many American cities prohibiting the building of anything other than a detached single-family home.

Communities and Demographics

USA Today “The young are regarded as the most tolerant generation. That's why results of this LGBTQ survey are 'alarming’”
According to GLAAD’s annual Accelerating Acceptance report, the number of Americans 18 to 34 who are comfortable interacting with LGBTQ people slipped from 53% in 2017 to 45% in 2018 (and down from 63% in 2016) – the results are a particularly jarring turn for a generation traditionally considered embracing and open and at a time when the LGBTQ community faces inflammatory rhetoric and dozens of policy setbacks, such as a ban on transgender people in the military and religious exemption laws that can lead to discrimination.


Reuters “Amazon gets U.S. patent to use delivery drones for surveillance service”
Amazon is exploring using drones to provide surveillance as a service to its customers, according to a patent granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office – the drones could be used to record video of consented user’s property to gather data that can be analyzed to look out for a broken window, a fire, or if a garage door was left open during the day.


The Hechinger Report “Schools are rethinking classroom design to encourage collaboration, creativity”
A growing number of schools are experimenting with classroom designs more conducive to the different ways students learn and, increasingly, the different ways teachers want to teach – from 2015 to 2018, the school resources crowdfunding site DonorsChoose saw requests for funding for flexible furniture balloon from 110 to 21,163, and while the remodels can be expensive, the movement can also be grassroots as teachers revamp their classrooms themselves, spending their own money or even making their own furniture.

Journalism and News

Digiday “Quartz is shutting down its Quartz Brief mobile app July 1”
Quartz’ The Brief, the critically praised news app built around a chatbot-influenced user experience that offered a mixture of stories and news summaries published by Quartz and other news outlets, is being shut down as Quartz focuses on new membership product models for driving consumer revenues. See also Nieman Lab “R.I.P. Quartz Brief, the innovative mobile news app.”

Restaurants, Retail, and Spaces

CNET “Nuro and Domino's buddy up for autonomous pizza delivery in Houston”
Domino's announced that it is teaming up with Nuro, a startup focused on autonomous deliveries, on a new pilot program in Houston, Texas, to allow customers who order online to have one of Nuro's R1 delivery vehicles carry their pizza and retrieve it using a PIN.

TechCrunch “Walmart Grocery is now offering a $98 per year ‘Delivery Unlimited’ subscription”
Walmart is taking aim at Instacart, Target’s Shipt, and Amazon Prime Now/Whole Foods with a new Delivery Unimited subscription that allows customers to skip a $9.95 (or sometimes less) per-order delivery fee in favor of a $12.95 monthly or $98 annual subscription.

Supply Chain Dive “FedEx to offer parcel pickup, drop-off in 8K Dollar General stores”
FedEx and Dollar General announced a partnership whereby FedEx will offer secure in-store parcel pickup and drop-off in 8,000 Dollar General stores by 2020, including across the retailer’s significant rural footprint.

CNN “Alma, the WeWork for therapists, gets $8 million to draw 'soulfulness into the world’”
Mental health startup Alma offers a membership-based program for mental health professionals to use a shared space to treat patients as well as form relationships with other therapists – Alma provides members with a suite of services, such as billing, scheduling, and tools for treating patients over video chat and a "matchmaker" on staff who specializes in mental health counseling and is devoted to pairing patients with professionals that suit their specific needs. See also TechCrunch “While people puzzle over WeWork, niche co-working spaces continue gaining traction”

Voice Control

The Drum “Brands form ‘Voice Coalition’ to prep for Alexa and Siri changing the way we shop”
The World Federation of Advertisers has launched a ‘Voice Coalition’, a new group led by Mastercard that will aim to help brands understand more about the impact voice will have on the way people shop. See also The Drum “Voice assistant adoption rates are lower than previously thought”