What will libraries be like in 2025? Will their functions be outsourced to private firms, with roving librarians? Or will libraries become spaces for community gatherings, rather than print collections? Will there be a single National Library Card for access to all libraries?
These are just some of the possibilities for Australian libraries hypothesised in the ALIA Discussion Paper on the Future of the Profession, released this week.
The discussion paper is not ALIA’s blueprint for the future, but it is a very interesting read. It considers three main themes which would shape the librarian of the future. These themes are:
- The Golden Age of Information
Several macroeconomic, societal and cultural factors shape the view of the future, including Australia’s ageing population, real concerns of climate change, technological innovations in health, high cost of fuel and economic uncertainty with the end of the mining boom.
The discussion paper imagines what 2025 will be like, with a multitude of scenarios focusing on public libraries, university libraries, school libraries, special libraries and collections.
What’s interesting about the future
What’s interesting is that the future may result in fewer but more highly skilled jobs for the library profession, incorporating not only research skills, but teaching skills. The rise of electronic collections means cataloguing may become a thing of the past with librarians specialising in teaching, advising and research.
The discussion paper places lots of weight in research skills, believing that it will be an essential skill for all people in the workplace, to be able to find information. It foresees lengthy discussions with publishers to provide access to content, widely and easily.
The paper concludes with a view that the profession can shape its future, and it is sure to be a topic of much debate throughout 2013.
Get involved – you can find the full discussion paper here.