8 Trends Create 8 Opportunities For 21st Century Libraries

The fifth annual worldwide virtual conference about the future of libraries in the digital age, Library 2.0, was held yesterday. I gave the mid-day keynote presentation.

Too often, discussions about libraries focus on how technological and economic trends are assaulting them.

The warnings have been around for some time. Twenty years ago at the General Conference of the International Federation of Library Associations, Chris Batt, then Director of the Croydon UK Library, gave a speech on the “The library of the future”.

He said:

“What are the implications of all for this for the future of public libraries? … The answer is that while we cannot be certain about the future for our services, we can and should be developing a vision which encompasses and enriches the potential of the Internet. If we do not do that then others will; and they will do it less well.”

So I followed the advice attributed to President Lincoln,

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.”

And I chose instead to focus on the positive and the pro-active in my keynote to the conference. I aimed to encourage the audience to push the envelope, going beyond the constraints in their thinking about the role of the library.

Its title tells the story: “How The Future Requires Us To Re-envision Libraries: Trends In Technology, Society, The Economy And Government Provide New Opportunities For Libraries”.

The theme was that librarians should not just wait and see how to respond to this century’s trends, but instead seize the opportunities these trends open up and provide leadership to define the future of libraries and society in our knowledge-based economy.

Here then are the eight trends I discussed and how each opens up another opportunity for library leadership in this century:

If you’d like to see the presentation, it’s at https://sas.elluminate.com/site/external/recording/playback/link/table/dropin?sid=2008350&suid=D.CC1B958CD5B8C600676595BA71FF55

© 2015 Norman Jacknis, All Rights Reserved

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