Monday, 15 August 2011

The Future of Libraries

Last week, I attended a couple of meetings/workshops on the future of libraries.

First, I facilitated my board's SWOT analysis, demographics and library trends in preparation for the library's new strategic plan.  We discussed a wide range of issues but some came to the forefront for me - the electronic information/format explosion, decreased funding and the increase of 'have nots' in Canadian society. 

At the Marketing Think Tank, the first speaker in the panel discussion on the future of libraries started off with the statement that libraries are screwed and no longer will be viable in the age of Netflix, downloadable music and ebooks.  He did state that his view changed during the Think Tank with the vision and enthusiasm of marketing staff in libraries.

When I mentioned to a friend, an electrical engineer, that the renovated Central Library in Hamilton had 48 Internet stations in an 'Internet Commons', he could not believe that not everyone had Internet at home.

At the end of last week, I came to the realization that the library is probably going to be even more important in the new economy where fewer people will have a good middle class income and will have to come to the place like the library to participate in the pay-as-you-go electronic subscription and registration world.  Libraries will have to be more nimble in finding new and alternative sources of income and rework the traditional model.

This is both disheartening and energizing.  The current public library CEOs will have to either embrace the new world which is very different to what they have successfully done in the past or bring more of the newer generation who understand the implications of the future.

How will this play out?

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