Future of Libraries


Tweak to the matrix. As Oliver pointed out an axis based on low to high technology change doesn’t work because high technology change is a given. I can imagine one scenario where it isn’t but not two. This can be dealt with via the wild cards.

So…a revised matrix where the uncertainty is around whether a high rate of technology change is managed or chaotic. Much better.

6 thoughts on “Future of Libraries

  1. I like the change to “impact of technology”, which makes a lot of sense. Technological change is a given. What we have to deal with is the impact and our own reactions to it. An example that I’m seeing right now is the rise/spread of open source applications, software, etc and how they are changing the landscape.

  2. I’m not so sure about putting spaces & artifacts together. I think one of the big tensions in libraries is between their role as social spaces* & their role as real or virtual warehouses for artifacts.

    *I recently saw a lovely presso by a couple of library grad students on the use of a public library as social space by teenagers.

  3. I think technological change ( and rapid change) is a given. I guess I wonder why we must be reactive instead of proactive. I think we miss the boat by not influencing technological change, and the we is the publishing industry and the library business. One of my favorite movies is the neverend story where the focus is on what happens when mankind stops using its imagination. Oral traditions and the written word allow us to imagine what the characters look and sound like, or what color they are wearing. Technologies that do this for us deminish the experience. So, yes, libraries must find a way to store materials, but perhaps we need to help design the format so that we do not lose the positive aspects of imagination. I like the electronic formats that are actual texts that allow you to turn the pages. How would we convert collections to that format and how would we store and loan them out?

    Maybe I’m missing the point here.

  4. I’ve been in Europe for a few weeks so I’ve let this rest a little. The four draft scenarios will go up in a couple of days together with the draft timelines and cameos.

  5. We had the last big workshop a few days ago to outline the draft scenarios, the scenario table and the timelines and also to do some work on the strategic implications of each of the scenarios.

    Top line is that all four scenarios were liked but scenarios 2, 3 & 4 need more differentiation. Next steps include doing this and then starting to write up the final scenario book. This is essentially a report showing the process, the framing questions, the interview outputs, the initial scenarios for 2030, the timelines from 2010-2030, some cameos for 2030 and then bringing this all back to 2009.

    In other words, having looked at possible future worlds, we will start to consider what the strategic implications are for right now.

    All of this will be publicly available in due course but if you can’t wait various items are already available online. For example, the slides from Tuesday are on slideshare at http://www.slideshare.net/PublicLibraryServices/scenarios-to-strategy

    BTW, the most liked strategies coming out of all this to date are as follows:

    1. Building libraries as community hubs
    2. Establishing a national library brand (assumes a National Library Act)
    3. Teaching people to use technology (think Apple Genius Bar)
    4. Creating a sustainable funding strategy

    Oh, one final thing. One of the latest library fads in the UK (originally out of Scandinavia) is borrowing a person! To quote The Times:

    “Instead of books, readers can come to the library and borrow a person for a 30-minute chat. The human “books” on offer vary from event to event but always include a healthy cross-section of stereotypes. Last weekend, the small but richly diverse list included Police Officer, Vegan, Male Nanny and Lifelong Activist as well as Person with Mental Health Difficulties and Young Person Excluded from School.”

    The full Times article can be found here or click on the link in comments.

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