Mar 07 2004

Interesting Future Library Thoughts

Published by at 11:18 am under Uncategorized

Of all the stuff below, the statements about “context” are really interesting.

The future according to OCLC
Prompted by the sudden rise of Google and its impact on libraries, OCLC took a fresh look at the significant changes occurring in libraries. Last year OCLC conducted an environmental scan titled Pattern Recognition, a 100-page report downloadable in seven PDFs from its website. Some of its findings follow.
Just five years old in 2004, Google answers 200 million questions each day in 88 languages. Libraries have thrived in information-scarce societies; yet their future is in question in an information-rich environment. Will libraries and librarians be disintermediated with the user going directly to the source of the content?
Information consumers dominate the social landscape. They can be characterized by three qualities:
  They are accustomed to a self-service approach as witnessed in banking, booking travel, and information retrieval.
  They are satisfied with the information found on the Web.
  They experience work and play as seamless in a mobile environment where information and communications technology invisibly support their collaborative approach with others.
Slow economic growth worldwide will prompt democratic societies to reexamine their practice of funding the public good. Currently 75% of the world’s library spending is in five countries: United States, Japan, United Kingdom, Italy, and France. Libraries have not done a good job of demonstrating their return on investment (ROI), as colleges have in demonstrating the value of a degree.
Society is moving from an era of computing (mainframe, PC) to an era of connectivity (physical-networked, logical- wireless, embedded-smart). Hot technologies to track include: WiFi (wireless fidelity), smart cards, personalization, and alerting technologies.
Technology trends include:
  Providing structure to unstructured data with powerful search engines and categorization techniques
  Moving toward distributed solutions and component software
  Maturing of open-source solutions that create a state of permanent beta
  Evolving digital rights management (DRM) architecture that shifts the focus from protecting the owner to managing rights of the user
E-learning that becomes part of lifelong learning will dominate the educational landscape. These changes, though, will evolve with reduced funding available to support institutional repositories and growing expectation for open access.
Best known and hardest to assess is the library landscape. Libraries still serve as places for social assembly in their communities. With many librarians retiring in the next five to 10 years, opportunities for significant change exist. Access to content that provides value will continue to sustain libraries.
In looking ahead, three patterns are evident:
  Libraries are not readily accessible at point of need for a self-sufficient researcher.
  With digital content available in micro units, such as articles instead of journals, context becomes more important.
  With an emphasis on tools that enable increased collaboration, people will still seek context in the form of related content.
Libraries are still an integral part of their communities. But the question remains: How do libraries collaborate with their users in this new infosphere and use technology to deliver services to the information consumer?
This OCLC report is essential reading for librarians-not because its conclusions are right, but because the authors are willing to recognize the radical changes taking place that will affect libraries. They have the courage to raise the real question-not how do libraries survive, but how do they collaborate with their users to help them access the information they seek.


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