Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Future of Research Libraries

This weekend I read a book-in-progress about the future of research libraries, called "The Great Library In The Sky". The fact that it is a book-in-progress is an interesting idea all by itself that the author discusses in the introduction. Of course, the most interesting part is the book itself. The title of the first chapter is "Time to Say Goodbye" and it open with the statement that "Academic Libraries are confronting a death spiral." The work is an in-depth look at the challenges and problems posed to academic libraries by information competitors and disruptive technologies. It challenges the thinking of today's academic librarians while offering possibilities for remaining relevant into the future. Let's just say that it will not be by doing what has always been done.

As noted, it is a work-in-progress. The version I read is Version 0.6 and admittedly some chapters are a bit choppy yet. However, even in this form, it should be made mandatory reading in every graduate library science program. Also, any academic librarian wanting to see a pathway forward that isn't centered on cutting services and collections would be well served to read this book right now.

The author,
Adam Corson-Finnerty is the Director of Special Initiatives for the University of Pennsylvania Libraries. That institution is indeed fortunate to have someone like this on their team. Libraries need more people like this. He also writes a blog where clearly many of the ideas in this book started out. Excellent reading, both the blog and the book. Check them out.