Future of Libraries (Draft Scenario 4)

Scenario 4 Draft

This is a world of restless hypertext and universal access. Global economic growth, primarily driven by Asia, results in an expansion of digital connectivity and an explosion of digitalised information. It is a fast-paced world of global markets and endless technological innovation.

Life is good for most people, although rapid economic growth creates a number of problems ranging from surging energy prices to unaffordable real estate. The price of oil soon rises to an all time high and there are shortages of everything from water, wheat and plastic to copper, lithium and cadmium. This initially creates various manufacturing and supply problems and leads to unrest in some regions, especially areas where the price of food staples are high. However, most of these issues are soon solved through energy innovation and the widespread adoption of virtual products and services.

One serious cloud on the horizon is ageing, which results in severe skills shortages in most regions. This is particularly true in industries such as information technology, education, healthcare and security. Most governments ultimately solve this through automation, outsourcing or by importing skilled labour but there are still problems. The first two solutions cause demonstrations and boycotts, while the third (immigration) sparks racial tensions. This is especially true in poorer areas and violence in the streets spills over into government offices, schools, hospitals and libraries.

As for books things have changed quite fundamentally. e-books have proven to be very popular and are now mandatory within secondary and tertiary education. Libraries therefore house collections of work related or vocational e-books that can be downloaded for free onto a variety of devices. This situation obviously creates ongoing copyright problems, although the invention of ‘read-once’ e-books and the ‘buy for life’ iBook service partly solves some of the most immediate issues.

The biggest problem for libraries, apart from funding, is relevance. People have access to information at home and at work and can buy or borrow digital books from a variety of online services at the click of a mouse. Libraries therefore attempt to compete by extending opening hours and by introducing a number of leisure related services ranging from healthcare screening and technology tuition to childcare and mental health gyms. Libraries also double as third spaces, providing free workspace to digital nomads and silver surfers that have nowhere else to go.

Libraries still loan physical books but these have become boutique recreational items or items of historical record much like newspapers and magazines. In terms of collections, most resources are now devoted to either the creation of local information or the acquisition of e-books and e-learning materials.
Timeline — Scenario #4

2010
Launch of Kindle 2 in Australia starts to revolutionise reading habits
Bookshops go out of business at a rate of 50 per week in Australia
Apple launches iBooks store in US with provocative  ‘burning books’ advertisement
Announcement that 6/10 best selling books in Japan in 2009 were mobile downloads
Announcement that best selling book of 2009 was a cookbook

2011
Global growth returns
Oil price hits $120 per barrel
China buys up vast stocks of Lithium from Bolivia
Food inflation returns due to widespread adoption of bio-fuels
Physical books can now be reserved online from most public libraries
First major internet brownout in China causes widespread chaos
Publication of a series of books by technology futurists saying “I told you so”
National campaign using games and music in an attempt to get teens to visit libraries

2012
Amount of new information produced annually reaches epidemic proportions
Newspaper article says that only 10% of products sold in Borders are books
Hottest summer on record in most countries
Sales of print books continue to decline
Libraries stop lending films and music due to online competition
Inflation hits 10% or above in the majority of countries
Google buys Stanford’s map shop in London’s Covent Garden

2013
Series of scandals surrounding circulation of false health information
All public libraries now offer some form of online virtual collection.
Banks no longer offer paper statements
e-books become mandatory in universities
Libraries become storage areas housing ‘digital originals’ (i.e. books)
Cyber attack on UK government results in loss of 45 million e-records
Major government investments in solar energy and water recycling
Digital publishing outstrips print format
Videoeasy goes bust
Report claims that 30% of 5-8 year-olds have never read a physical book
Paper use falls by 33% in offices globally in a single year

2014
50% increase in sales of Toyota Prius
Libraries experiment with pay-per-view downloads
Claim that the average person now walks around with 10 batteries on his/her person
Libraries offer e-tax return guidance and advice service
Library network unsuccessfully launches @home book delivery with Post Office
YouGov survey says that the average household contains 10 books (8 are cookbooks)

2015
Launch of 3-D TV by Foxtel
Sony introduce e-paper in Officeworks
Government urbanisation strategy focuses on high-density living
Creation of single library association
Boom in serious media titles
Widespread adoption of RFID in public libraries
Wearable computers now widely available

2016
Libraries expand range of e-government services
Report says that average walking speed in 20 cities worldwide is up 25% on 2009
Government runs commercial to reduce noise in open-plan offices
Government introduces a series of laws relating to internet filtering and censorship
Libraries introduce cross-format media-on-demand vending machines
Supermarkets offer e-book download service
e-tax returns now mandatory

2017
4.5 billion people now own mobile phones. 70% are now internet connected.
Libraries respond to demand for workspaces with introduction of hot desks
Libraries offer before and after work childcare
Libraries start to sell iPhones and Sony e-readers
Recruitment and CV services available in libraries
All books, documents and artefacts in libraries now geo-tagged
The content creation industry continues to consolidate
News Corporation starts to charge for all online content
Major retrospective of computer graphics 1980-2015 at the National Gallery

2018
Series of clean tech breakthroughs result in oil falling to under $100 a barrel
Most library catalogues are open-source
Librarians start to recommend specific titles as being better than others
Survey claims that 25% of adults no longer read anything in physical format

2019
Libraries as physical spaces highly valued by public
50% of e-book and e-zine sales now made through supermarkets
Library shelves fully digitalized and contain scannable user recommendations
Best selling book of 2019 is The Kingdom of Infinite Cyberspace

2020
Libraries offer mental health workouts for senior citizens
Government funds study looking at reasons behind declining attention spans
All libraries now have cafes
MIT Media lab demonstrates new 5-D e-paper
Oil falls to $50 a barrel
First subscription-only public libraries in NSW

2021
Localisation trend intensifies, especially with local search, local maps and local news
Collection strategies focus on local history and vocation-based materials
Libraries become the largest buyer of physical newspapers and periodicals
Google announces that it is no longer interested in digitalizing the world’s libraries

2022
Local community movement starts and rapidly spreads around NSW
Philanthropists divert resources away from art galleries to libraries
Libraries offer courses in DIY book publishing

2023
All libraries equipped with nano-solar power
Copyright agency approves ‘book for life’ download service

2024
Wave of cultural consolidation with libraries merging with museums and art galleries
Typical library opening hours now 8.30am to 11.00pm
Library network announces major tie up with school library network

2025
18 regional library services compressed into just 6 in NSW
Library of the future is built incorporating an art gallery, concert hall and museum
Steve Jobs announces that his memoir will only be available as an ibook download
80% of the global population now has Internet access

2026
Librarians now widely known as information evangelists
Open libraries catalogues now commonplace
Libraries offer edited list of the best web links for particular topics
English now the third most popular language on the web behind Chinese and Spanish

2027
Public libraries install media on demand vending machines
Libraries offer business news and intelligence service.
Libraries sell anti-virus software
UNESCO joins with the US Library of Congress to launch the World Digital Library

2028
Information now ranked according to source credibility rather than in-coming links
Department of Media and sport announces that libraries will focus on sports history

2029
Internet addiction now a globally recognised condition
Libraries offer evening courses in linear reading
Libraries offer school study spaces and homework classes

2030
Physical books become luxury items alongside newspaper and magazines
85% of public libraries now virtual. Physical buildings used for storage only

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