Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Future of Libraries

At the fall meeting of the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies (COSLA), the chiefs were provided with an overview of the recently published paper, "Rising to the Challenge: Re-envisioning the Future of Public Libraries."  The materials were presented by Amy Garmer of the Aspen Institute and Maureen Sullivan of ALA.

The paper is a compelling case for both why and how libraries should and can transform themselves to meet current community needs.  The basis for change lies in the shift to a knowledge-based society and the authors maintain libraries are expert in that space.  Positioning themselves through networking, scaled resources, and leadership are key facets to the new mission.  The authors go on to say that the unique combination of people, place, and platform can be leverage to achieve the transformation.  They also cite four specific strategies:

  1. Align services more intentionally and deeply in support of community goals;
  2. Provide access to content in all formats, especially digitally;
  3. Ensure the long-term sustainability of the library through new revenue sources, alternative governance, measuring impacts, and economies of scaled resources; and
  4. Cultivating leadership through
    1. improving communications with community leaders,
    2. developing community champions,
    3. strengthening intersections with diverse communities and communities of color,
    4. reaching out to and engaging with young-professional organizations, and
    5. demonstrating the collective impact of partners working together.

I encourage you all to read the report!