Loading...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Bloggorhea.. I know, gross. (3 major issues facing libraries in the next 10 years)

I got asked to list 3 major issues facing libraries in the next 10 years on a job application. I know, that seems more like a secondary interview question. Anyway, here's what I answered.

The most critical issue that will be confronting public libraries in the next That money's on a crash diet.  It'll gain all it's weight back the first time it eats a peice of bread... Trust me.
ten years is that of diminishing budgets. While it is true that cities and states are dealing with somewhat unprecedented budget crises, this does not mean that the libraries will be expected to offer a lesser quality of service to their patrons. We must learn to do more with less. We must seek out possible alternative funding sources. There is potential for following an NPR/PBS approach offering memberships with various rewards for those who donate a certain dollar amount on an annual basis, along with regular pledge drive weeks at the library locations. With concerted efforts to do more while relying on local tax revenue less, libraries can place themselves in a position to withstand the booms and busts of the future without less worry.


Another critical issue confronting public libraries in the next 10 years is the issue of Digital Rights Management. In recent days this issue has shown itself Not even libraries?  WTF DRM, WTF?
front and center in the form of Harpercollins e-book checkout restrictions. As new media appear there will be problems as the publishers fight to maintain and increase annual profits. This will also present itself as libraries move to streaming video content for their patrons in addition to allowing them to check out films from the library stacks. I believe the future of this lies in institutional subscription services for these media, in much the same way as libraries subscribe to scholarly journals today. Individual libraries and consortia will move away from ownership of materials in these forms to a rental of blocks of materials. This might take the shape of a Bestseller e-book subscription, or an African American fiction collection subscription, or even institutional accounts with Netflix or Dishnetwork's re-launched Blockbuster brand. Nevertheless, change will continue at an ever accelerating pace that libraries must keep up with.


Another critical issue that public libraries face in the next ten years is that of an aging professional staff. There was an idea a few years back about a "Silver Tsunami" that referred to the impending wave of librarian retirements and the lack of qualified professionals to replace them. What a lovely lady we've got here to help you establish an e-mail address.
Instead, the financial crisis has depleted retirement accounts and this prediction has not come true. Librarians are not retiring, but stay on with plans to do so for the foreseeable future. This leads to the issue of having to constantly teach old dogs new tricks. Never before has the library profession changed so rapidly as it has in the last ten years. This same statement will be true for the next 10 years. The one thing that will not change, however, is much of the libraries' professional staff. What these librarians learned in school, while still valuable, is less and less related to their job duties. To combat this, libraries must focus on constant and vigilant professional training and re-education. Libraries must also make room for the younger generation to fill leadership roles and help steer the library into the future.

No comments: