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LIBRARIAN AS FUTURIST: Changing the Way Libraries Think About the Future

July 24, 2014, 10:42 am

I recently published an essay in portal. It explores the mindset (and toolkit) of futurists and attempts to connect that to libraries. I blogged about it earlier with the idea of “change literacy”—which I still think is a fascinating concept.

Librarian_as_Futurist_preview_imageThe portal version is fine, but I can’t legally post their PDF – so I made my own. Besides that, academic publisher prints always look a little stodgy and grayish to me, no offense. I prefer a more uplifting wrapper for my words. Design is a vital part of the communications process and I  like to have some control over how my ideas are presented.

Here is a snippet:

Librarians could discuss ad infinitum the predictions, proclamations, worries, fears, hopes, and dreams about what libraries are becoming. In fact, as a profession librarians are obsessed with talking about our future. Books, articles, blog posts, conference sessions, and webinars offer a steady stream of speculation. But honestly, all of this speculation does not matter. We should not concern ourselves with the future of libraries. Instead, we should focus on the factors driving change within the communities we serve and partner with. What is the future of scholarly communication? What is the future of faculty promotion and tenure? What is the future of undergraduate and graduate curricula? Of learning engagement? Of research? Of copyright? These are questions that we should be asking, exploring, and building upon. Technologies and social change will impact these areas, causing ripple effects across higher educations and beyond. This is where libraries can apply strategic foresight to deliver new value. What will libraries be in the future? They will become whatever their users need.

A Special Issue
You may recall that I was co-editing a special issue on “the future” with a different publisher when the Board quit and my effort was in limbo. Many of the authors wanted to continue their work and we went with portal. I decided to step aside as co-editor (but still write an article) due to some major commitments at work — but Damon Jaggars did a terrific job shaping, copyediting, and corralling us. This issue definitely would not exist without him.

Those of you with subscriptions can view the articles here. Those without can view the “watermarked” pre-prints here.

Thanks again to all the authors for agreeing to do this. I think it is a great collection of essays—but I might be biased. Damon and I aspired to assemble a thought-provoking group of voices and I think this definitely delivers:

We Can Imagine the Future, But Are We Equipped to Create It?
Damon E. Jaggars

The University as a Fully Integrated and Distributed Platform: A Vision
Johanna Drucker

Imagine! On the Future of Teaching and Learning and the Academic Research Library
Kelly E. Miller

Start a New Fire: Measuring the Value of Academic Libraries in Undergraduate Learning
Frank Menchaca

Staying True to the Core: Designing the Future Academic Library Experience
Steven J. Bell

Reenvisioning Teaching and Learning: Opportunities for Campus IT
Malcolm Brown

Collection Directions: The Evolution of Library Collections and Collecting
Lorcan Dempsey, Constance Malpas, Brian Lavoie

Access to Everything: Building the Future Academic Library Collection
Michael Levine-Clark

Diversity, Social Justice, and the Future of Libraries
Myrna Morales, Em Claire Knowles, Chris Bourg

Librarian as Futurist: Changing the Way Libraries Think About the Future
Brian Mathews

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