Reflecting on the future of academic and public libraries

Many libraries face serious problems stemming from the economic recession of 2009-2009 and its aftermath, as well as from the ever-changing information-seeking behaviour of their customers and the presence of information technologies that affect that behaviour. In some instances, fiscal problems predate the recession. 

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Source: flickr cc image by Stephen McCulloch

At the same time, there is an increased expectation that libraries demonstrate accountability, collaborate more with stakeholders and other libraries, and, in some instances, generate alternative sources of revenue. 

How should libraries respond to such pressures? 

Is it enough to continue to do the same things or, at most, incremental changes? 

No, on the contrary, the times call for dramatic transformational change and the creation of a vision of the future that excites staff and stakeholders.

The mention of change management and the future of public, academic, or any other type of library suggests someone staring into a crystal ball or trying to predict the future. 

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Source: flickr cc image from ChazWags

The emerging vision, as commonly portrayed in the literature on scenario development, might assume hypothetical facts and extend the projection for thirty to fifty years, but without producing anything relevant to help libraries anticipate, prepare for, and manage change. 

Reflecting on the Future of Academic and Public Libraries does not offer predictions; rather it offers portrayals of the future through shorter-range scenarios, stories projected a maximum of fifteen years ahead. These scenarios contain elements or threads grounded in the present that libraries or other organizations can use as they piece together a story that is relevant to local circumstances and can be linked to strategic planning and change management.

The goal is to help libraries produce a story that they can use to explore surprises and discontinuities in the planning process and to obtain staff and stakeholder buy-in to a vision that enables everyone to concentrate on the bigger picture.

The chapter of the book are:

  1. Change—Major to Minor
  2. Building a Path to the Future
  3. Transforming the Future
  4. Related Literature
  5. Future Views of Academic Libraries
  6. Perspectives on Trends and Scenarios: Academic Libraries
  7. Future Views of Public Libraries
  8. Perspectives on Trends and Scenarios: Public Libraries
  9. Preparing for the Future: Some Final Thoughts.

More information and details about how to purchase the book can be found here.

A further preview of the book can be found in this slide deck:

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