Tired of thinking about tomorrow?
Working at the “Center for the Future of Libraries,” sounds like a tough gig. After all, none of us has a Magic 8-ball that lets us know exactly what the next disruptive trend will be. We guess. We sometimes guess wrong.
The Center’s current campaign, in cooperation with the LibrariesTransform campaign, does its best to identify and report on emerging trends within the library world, and to “help libraries and librarians understand how trends are developing and why they matter.” Though trends can rise and fall, the campaign has done an excellent job of zeroing in on those that seem to have broad appeal or a good deal of staying power. It’s not just a guess – it’s a well-educated guess.
SWON’s upcoming Staff Training Symposium – a full-day event for all library staff from support staff to senior staff – is using these emerging trends as the guide for the day. We are focusing on concepts as diverse as “Fandom” to “Income Inequality.” Clearly, we also believe these trends matter and, like the Center for the Future of Libraries, want to help you understand these developing patterns.
We all know that our libraries need to keep up. We need to know, or at least make a good guess at what’s next. But we also know that mostly that Magic 8-ball says, “Reply Hazy. Try again, Later.” Sometimes, keeping up seems exhausting or even futile.
The current issue of Library Journal arrived in our office today with a huge graphic declaring the issue to be about “Designing the Library of the Future.” Here we go again, some might think. It turns out, LJ was ready for that, leading off with a piece called “Future Fatigue,” complete with an image of a Magic 8-ball.
Editor Meredith Schwartz writes in "Future Fatigue" that, “The accuracy rate of forecasts is not high—many extend current trends but fail to anticipate the curveball that will change the game, or focus on technology and neglect social change,” and notes that there’s a “risk [of] creating a culture of cynicism among staff and stakeholders most needed to buy into change efforts if they are to succeed."
So maybe you’ve got Future Fatigue. It happens to us all. But we here at SWON believe that learning together about strong, emerging trends from a variety of engaging speakers can help you and your staff turn that Future Fatigue into Future Fanaticism.
And we need Future Fanatics, because no effort succeeds without the library staff. In fact, the Library Journal article suggests, as one of its ways to combat fatigue, that we involve staff in change from the start.
So start here. Get involved. Register for our Staff Training Symposium on October 6th and when someone asks you about the future of libraries, you can reply, “Outlook good.”
~ Cassondra Vick, MLIS
Technology Educator, SWON Libraries