Futures Thinking for Academic Libraries

Futures Thinking for Academic Libraries: Higher Education in 2025 by Staley and Malenfant tells of 26 possible scenarios that may impact academic libraries in the next 15 years. The scenarios include things like academic culture, demographics, distance education, funding, globalization, infrastructure/facilities, libraries, political climate, publishing industry, societal values, students/learning, and technology. The authors have examined the probability, impact, speed of change, and threat/opportunity potential of each scenario.

Of the 26 scenarios discussed, those with the highest impact and probability are:

  • Breaking the textbook monopoly. Most states will have passed legislation that requires textbook publishers to make textbooks affordable in the future.
  • Bridging the scholar/practitioner divide. Online publications, by scholarly societies in partnership with trade organizations and professional associations, are predicted to be open access and support robust community-based dialogue.
  • Everyone is a “non-traditional” student. The interwoven nature of work/life/school will be accepted in higher education as life spans increase and students are unable to fund tuition in one lump.
  • Increasing threat of cyberterrorism. University and library IT systems will be the targets of hackers, criminals, and rogue states, disrupting operations for days and weeks at a time. Continue reading Futures Thinking for Academic Libraries

If I live to be 100

Assuming you die at age 100, what will be the biggest differences between the world you were born into and the world you leave?

Phil Bowermaster, a futurist from Denver, developed this video on the topic, with one of my friends in it, Peggy Cadigan of the New Jersey State Library.

Here’s how I hope the world will change:

Racism will cease to exist. And all the other isms as well. The reason why I think it could be so: we’re all getting so jumbled up in America already. Unknown generations after settlers came to America, we have many nationalities all mixed into Heinz 57.  And that’s better than plain old ketchup any old day. We’re stronger, more diverse, more flexible.

People will value the big idea. The reason why I think it could be so: we live in an information economy.  Wikinomics rule and big ideas that change lives can be used for the betterment of society.  We need to work collaboratively using the big ideas of the world to solve problems like world hunger, our dependence on the dinosaur, and global warming.

We will find cures for outrageous diseases and birth defects. The reason why I think it could be so: Physicians like Paul Farmer  and John Opitz and many more who work in the trenches day in and day out.

Here’s how I doubt it will change:

There are idiots everywhere and no one really knows the right buttons to push to make that better. Sometimes we just have to enjoy the journey.