Future of the library and information science profession

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Published Date:13-07-2017
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FUTURE OF THE LIBRARY AND INFORMATION SCIENCE PROFESSION© 2014 Australian Library and Information Association Future of the Library and Information Science Profession Canberra ACT, Australian Library and Information Association, April 2014 www.alia.org.au/futureoftheprofessionCONTENTS Shaping our future 03 The project 07 Introduction 09 A healthy exchange of ideas 10 A positive environment for library and information services 12 World view 14 ALIA Future of the LIS Profession Summit 16 Themes 17 Actions arising 40 01 FUTURE OF THE LIS PROFESSIONSHAPING OUR FUTURE Australia is well served by libraries in all sectors. Like other nations across the world we are, however, seeing a decline in investment in school libraries and special libraries for industry and other organisations. The major reason given for this is economic, from funders who view libraries as less relevant in a world with Google. If we want to reverse this trend, then we need to consider what is happening now, what will happen in the future, and shape our services accordingly. Above all, we need to ensure we are seen as vital, not only to the knowledge base of our communities but also to the economic, social and environmental development of our country. Most futurists will tell us that it is important to look at the trends, and to develop various scenarios to assist in determining our future directions. However, spotting trends may be more dicult than w ffi e first think. The ebook was first introduced in the late ‘90s, then disappeared, only to make a signic fi ant impact on readers, authors, libraries and publishers some 20 years later, illustrating that trends may take some time before they become embedded in our everyday lives. Let’s look at some trendspotter predictions. y Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC) expects interactive games, particularly mobile phone applications, to be one of the highest revenue growth areas, driven by mobile 1 internet access. Some of our libraries are using ‘serious games’ to engage with new generation library users. 2 y Telefonica in its video How will the world be in 2020 states that the ‘process of globalisation’ will continue, and we should see traditional boundaries blurring. Of course we can see this trend developing through online sites and the use of social media. Libraries no longer need to work in isolation either geographically or by sector. 1 Newspapers’ future may lie in data Sydney Morning Herald Online 1 July 2013 Cited 27 August 2013 www.smh.com.au/business/newspapers-future-may-lie-in-data-20130630-2p5b1.htmlixzz2dJSacBTX 2 How will the world be in 2020 Telefonica 15 May 2011 03 FUTURE OF THE LIS PROFESSIONy Telefonica sees that the scarcity of resources (power, water, food) will determine our 3 economic models. Australia has had a boom from natural resources, but as this slows, governments, universities, organisations are cutting their spending and we are all competing for meager dollars. In the past ten years we have seen dramatic changes in technology: TVs connected to the internet, cloud technologies, online classrooms, mobile devices with fast computing power. We need to think how we will utilise these technologies and integrate them into our service delivery models. For example, all public libraries have websites but only a small number oer online members ff hip without applicants having to come to the library to confirm their details. Vijay Govindarajan, a professor at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business and co-author of The Other Side of Innovation, talks about how successful companies can easily lose their edge and has categorised three traps that companies can fall into: 1. The physical trap, in which big investments in old systems or equipment prevent the pursuit of fresher, more relevant investments. 2. The psychological trap, in which company leaders fixate on what made them successful and fail to notice when something new is displacing it. 3. The strategic trap, when a company focuses purely on the marketplace of today and 4 fails to anticipate the future. 3 How will the world be in 2020 Telefonica 15 May 2011 4 10 great companies that lost their edge US news Online 19 August 2012 Cited 27 August 2013 money.usnews.com/money/blogs/flowchart/2010/08/19/10-great-companies-that-lost-their-edge 04 FUTURE OF THE LIS PROFESSIONLibraries measure people walking in through our doors, how much they borrow, and how oen the ft y visit the website and attend events. We build collections, oer some serv ff ices, maybe even serve coee — in s ff hort we rely on a model where people come to us. So are we too tied to the physical library building? David Lankes in his book The Atlas of New Librarianship states that ‘future libraries 5 will be valued more for services than for book collections’. He asserts that our services will move from our traditional role of book storage and lending into a dynamic community space. We need to embrace both our physical environment and our virtual environment, allowing our customers to interact with us wherever they are located via any means they choose. Anders Sorman-Nilsson expresses this as Digilogue; how to win the digital minds 6 and analogue hearts of tomorrow’s customers. In our buildings, virtual or physical, we house rows and rows of containers holding content, the majority of our digital content today is really just a conversion of the print into a digital format. It still looks like a book or article. As learning and knowledge creation become more collaborative and dynamic, we need to make sure that the book is not our psychological trap. We need to consider how we tap into the content and repurpose it or bring it alive. Augmented reality is an excellent example of how we can combine content with technology to provide a greater experience. We can feed local history information (maybe even genealogical information) into travel guides, so when a person points their smart device at a building, not only will it tell them what it is, but also what it was and who lived there, providing the tourist with an experience of the past, present and the future. 5 Lankes, R David The atlas of new librarianship 6 Sormann-Nilsson, Anders Digilogue: how to win the digital minds and analogue hearts of tomorrows customers. Richmond, Victoria, Australia : Wiley, 2013. 9781118647936 (hardback). 05 FUTURE OF THE LIS PROFESSIONAvoiding the strategic trap, where we focus on what’s happening today, rather than looking ahead to tomorrow, is what prompted the ALIA Board to initiate the Future of the LIS Profession project in 2012. Over the last 18 months, we have consulted with hundreds of people, both within the library and information field and outside it, and this series of reports is the end result. ALIA has synthesised and analysed all the feedback we received, and from this distilled a number of themes, some generic, others specic t fi o the dier ff ent sectors. One overriding theme emerged, and that is that, to move forward successfully, we will need to work collaboratively with technology companies, publishers, governments and each other. These collaborations, at a national and international level, will enable us to data and text mine, look at ‘mashing’ content, think about creating outstanding experiences, and be even more proactive with the rich content contained in our libraries. Julie Rae President, Australian Library and Information Association 06 FUTURE OF THE LIS PROFESSIONTHE PROJECT Exploring the future of the library and information science (LIS) profession has been a highly collaborative project. It was initiated by the ALIA Board in 2012 and has involved consultation with a broad range of stakeholders through a year-long process. This consultation was based on an initial Discussion Paper published by ALIA in May 2013, and was supported by the ALIA Futures wiki. The wiki is now closed, but papers, submissions and postings can be found on the ALIA website. The findings from the project have been produced as seven documents, including one each for school libraries, public libraries, tertiary education libraries, special library and information services, collecting institutions (our National, State and Territory Libraries), and one for the library and information professionals who drive the sector. These documents are available as pdf downloads from the ALIA website. For more information about this project, contact advocacyalia.org.au. www.alia.org.au/futureoftheprofession 07 FUTURE OF THE LIS PROFESSIONHow will libraries remain relevant for users? What changes will institutions and individuals in the sector experience? Will ‘library and information professional’ continue to be a necessary and desirable occupation? 08 FUTURE OF THE LIS PROFESSIONINTRODUCTION In this project, we set out to investigate the big questions. Heading towards 2025: y How will libraries remain relevant for users? y What changes will institutions and individuals in the sector experience? y Will ‘library and information professional’ continue to be a necessary and desirable occupation? We were looking for bold thinking and we received challenging, insightful, inspiring responses to our request for feedback, through submissions from individuals and groups; participants at our Future of the LIS Profession discussions around Australia; senior library leaders, who gathered at our Summit; and the heads of other associations in the sector, who attended our sector roundtable. All these events were held between May and October 2013. Conversations initially focused on the current issues facing library and information professionals, before projecting forward into how we saw the landscape developing by 2025. As a result, we have been able to identify indicators, which will enable us to map our journey, and actions that will support positive outcomes. We concluded that the future is not fixed and we are in a position to write it ourselves rather than having it written for us. We need to be the architects of our own destiny, anticipating change and adapting our library and information services to be part of the flow. 09 FUTURE OF THE LIS PROFESSIONA HEALTHY EXCHANGE OF IDEAS There was plenty of discussion, debate and diversity arising within the ALIA membership, in the broader library and information sector, and with external stakeholders. The many issues raised about the current environment can be summarised in a SWOT analysis: Strengths Users need, want, love libraries, and they value the expertise and support of the sta.ff ‘Library’ as a term has universal awareness and the strength of the brand has developed over centuries. Libraries are not simply about the materials and the technology, they help satisfy the need for people to connect. Libraries ensure access to books, resources and technology for everyone, promoting equality of opportunity. Weaknesses Management and funding decisions are oen ma ft de by those who are not library users. ‘Library’ as a term can be seen as old fashioned and outdated, while ‘information service’ is not well understood. 10 FUTURE OF THE LIS PROFESSIONOpportunities We are living in an increasingly information rich, knowledge-based society. New and disruptive technologies will help improve access to information. Ebooks and eresources provide an exciting new format. Growth in education through greater availability of online courses can only increase the demand for library services. Libraries have an expanded role in content creation and can help disseminate new work. In university and special libraries, there is an increased role for information professionals in the research field. Information professionals are well positioned to counteract executives’ information overload. Threats Free, cheap, ubiquitous online content competes with free library content. Policy- and decision-makers are taking a DIY approach to sourcing information, with not enough concern for rigour, accuracy and completeness. Shrinking budgets and higher costs make it hard to satisfy growing demand. 11 FUTURE OF THE LIS PROFESSIONA POSITIVE ENVIRONMENT FOR LIBRARY AND INFORMATION SERVICES During the consultation period, there was no question that we would still be here in the future, and this optimism was endorsed by an exercise in matching what our sector provides against the type of society we live in. Library and information services and professionals thrive best in an environment where: y People respect and strive for truth, knowledge, justice. y Governments are committed to freedom of access to information and freedom of expression. y Citizens have enquiring minds. y Literacy is a necessary skill. y Reading for pleasure is a popular activity. y History and heritage are valued. y Information is abundant. y There is evidence-based practice. y People actively seek to reduce inequality. y There is a sharing society. y There is pride in civic and institutional infrastructure. y Investment in knowledge is seen as essential for successful outcomes. 12 FUTURE OF THE LIS PROFESSIONThey do not thrive well when: y Governments are oppressive. y New ideas are seen as dangerous or irrelevant. y The past is easily discarded. y People don’t value books and reading. y There is a ‘near enough is good enough’ approach. y Poverty and disadvantage go unchallenged. y Enterprise and innovation are moribund. 13 FUTURE OF THE LIS PROFESSIONWORLD VIEW Australian libraries don’t exist in a vacuum; they are part of worldwide networks of similar institutions. The future of Australian library and information science is wrapped up in the future success of libraries on a global scale and ALIA connects through the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA). IFLA is carrying out its own extensive investigation into the future for the sector and, in August 2013, published the IFLA Trend Report. The IFLA Trend Report points to five high level trends that will change the information environment: 1 New technologies will both expand and limit who has access to information An ever-expanding digital universe will bring a higher value to information literacy skills such as basic reading and competence with digital tools. People who lack these skills will face barriers to inclusion in a growing range of areas. The nature of new online business models will heavily influence who can successfully own, profit from, share or access information in the future. 2 Online education will democratise and disrupt global learning The rapid global expansion in online education resources will make learning opportunities more abundant, cheaper and more accessible. There will be increased value on lifelong learning and more recognition of non-formal and informal learning. 3 The boundaries of privacy and data protection will be redefined Expanding data sets held by governments and companies will support the advanced profiling of individuals, while sophisticated methods of monitoring and filtering communications data will make tracking those individuals cheaper and easier. Serious consequences for individual privacy and trust in the online world could be experienced. 14 FUTURE OF THE LIS PROFESSION4 Hyper-connected societies will listen to and empower new voices and groups More opportunities for collective action are realised in hyper-connected societies — enabling the rise of new voices and promoting the growth of single-issue movements at the expense of traditional political parties. Open government initiatives and access to public sector data will lead to more transparency and citizen-focused public services. 5 The global information economy will be transformed by new technologies Proliferation of hyper-connected mobile devices, networked sensors in appliances and infrastructure, 3D printing and language-translation technologies will transform the global information economy. Existing business models across many industries will experience creative disruption spurred by innovative devices that help people remain economically active later in life from any location. We used these trends to help frame the latter stages of our consultation process. 15 FUTURE OF THE LIS PROFESSIONALIA FUTURE OF THE LIS PROFESSION SUMMIT More than 50 library leaders from across Australia and New Zealand came together at the State Library of NSW on 14 October 2013 for ALIA’s Future of the LIS Profession Summit. The event started with futurist Mark Pesce’s keynote ‘our hyper connected future.’ He said: ‘Let me begin this morning with the good news: you’ve won. The culture of shared knowledge which is the essence of the message and purpose of the library has now become an established feature of global culture. The light of knowledge shines more brightly than ever before, from two billion smartphone screens.’ Mark framed his discussion by showing how far the industry, and access to information, has come and asking what this relatively new world of easy access to information means to the future of the sector. ‘We got the world of our dreams, a world of nearly infinite knowledge nearly universally available. The price of this victory is an existential crisis of the first order: In the new culture of shared knowledge, what is a library?’ He suggested the following roles as those that libraries will provide: y In a culture of shared knowledge, the library turns into a generator of value. y Libraries and librarians have a role to play acting as filters. y Librarians will become the solvers of problems automated systems like Google cannot solve. 16 FUTURE OF THE LIS PROFESSIONTHEMES From the ALIA Future of the LIS Profession consultation, we have extracted the ten generic themes which follow, along with themes that we have divided by sector — school libraries, public libraries, academic libraries, special libraries, collecting institutions, and library and information professionals. 17 FUTURE OF THE LIS PROFESSION