Evolving Libraries-Keynote-Computers in Libraries

Daniel Rasmus — Uncertainty and Imagination: Evolving Libraries

Who is the library competing with in the “competitive” word?

Uncertainty 1: How will we access information?

Uncertainty 2:  How will books be represented?

Uncertainty 3:  How Low or High Can we go?  Is it going to be personal capacity or cloud capacity?  Do we want things to be personal, encrypted and owned or do we want it to reside in cloud.   54%  claim never to use cloud, 95% actually do.

Uncertainty 4:  How will we find stuff in future?   Rasmus article in Fast Company taking tech companies to task because of thinking numbers control everything.

Uncertainty 5:  What do we hire a library to do?  Learning experience?  Leisure?  Memory?  Internet?  Community meeting place?  Mediation locations/tutoring?   Source of data? Digital help desk?  E-book help desk?

Statistics– 7 in 10 libraries see an increase in use of computers.

Uncertainty 6:  How will we represent knowledge?  How do we represent knowledge in a networked world–many ways to represent it other than print?  verbally, visually, modules, just in time learning, video, books, social media

Uncertainty 7:  What do we need to know?  How do we determine what we need to know?  “The Serendipity Economy”–we can’t just use data to extrapolate what we need to know; changes often

Uncertainty 8:  What will be the role of place?   Will library be virtual?  as people have to meet in person less, that may shift roles.  How do we accommodate our virtual population?

Uncertainty 9:  The Measure of Success:  Productivity vs. serendipity    In serendipity economy, relationship building moment happens.  If we mechanize processes how do we make sure that the relationship part helps.   We can’t measure serendipity economy activities with industrial area metrics(awesome).

Uncertainty 10:  Who will Document the Trust, Who Will Censor?   How do we know that someone hasn’t changed the content of a digital book?  How do we decide validity?  With self-publishing, little editorial control.

Uncertainty 11:  Rights Management   What Model will predominate?  digital rights management vs. digital restriction management      In a world where information wants to be free, why isn’t it?

Use scenario planning to look at current data and see how things might fall out in the future.

For example, possible futures:  Time Out, Corporate Lifeline, Falling Skies, Freelance Planet

Corporate Lifeline–world where we live to work and work to live;  corporate partnerships describe how things are done  (in scenario plan–look at societal, technological, cultural, etc. ways that these scenarios play out.)  Will the uncertainties play out?    Is X future plausible?

Trial Separation– Thomas Friedman was wrong.  World isn’t flat, it’s a big lumpy mess.  Globalization has fractured, countries turning inward.  Are structures we know disintegrating?

Falling Skies–what if?  What if things get worse and rules don’t work any more?  What if grassroots take over?  (libraries become a trusted institution?)

Freelance Planet?  World millenial generation is taking us into–everything is networked.  Things are outsourced–many freelance workers creating their own contextual work environments; technology innovation rampant and varied.   Lots of needs to learn “just in time”.  Libraries can help provide data for learners.

The Implication for Libraries:

What do people hire the library for?

Different models of future dictate our work.  For example, in Corporate scenario, digital rights management is dictated to us.  In Freelance Planet future, lots of choices.


–Don’t think about the future in a linear way.  (Big Data–are we questioning it?  are we analyzing it?)

–Document the uncertainties we face.  Stick them on the wall in front of you.  Make a board of the stuff you don’t know about so you see it every day.   You shouldn’t imply you know the future — as book TOO BIG TO KNOW says, world is messy.

–Consider a technology uncertain until it’s gone.   Things may become obselete or they may not.

–Use scenario planning to help plan for contingencies — not just one answer to uncertainties.  Yours may be different.   IF this, what would I do about it….?  Actively use scenario planning.

When asked what you know–“I don’t know what the future is, but I have a robust way of looking at it.”

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