January 26, 2022

New Policy Brief from ALA: "Confronting the Future: Strategic Visions for the 21st Century Public Library"

From an ALA News E-Mail:

The American Library Association (ALA) Office for Information Technology Policy’s (OITP) latest policy brief breaks down the formidable challenges in store for libraries during the next few decades. The brief, “Confronting the Future: Strategic Visions for the 21st Century Public Library”

[The policy brief] was written by OITP Fellow Roger E. Levien, president of Strategy and Innovation Consulting.

The report explores how emerging technologies combined with challenges, such as financial constraints as well as shifts in the nature and needs of library users, require libraries to evolve rapidly and make strategic decisions today that will influence their future for decades to come.

From the Introduction of the Report:

American libraries will confront formidable challenges during the next few decades of the 21st century. Both the media and technologies they deploy will continue the digital transformation that has already eroded or swept away in years what had lasted for decades or centuries. Nor is the rate of change slowing. The new media and technologies are enabling a steady f low of genre- and usage-changing innovations, and institutions drawing on these disruptive changes are competing with the library in its most fundamental roles. Libraries also are challenged by the financial constraints facing the agencies that support them, as well as shifts in the nature and needs of library users. If libraries are to evolve rapidly enough to meet these challenges, they will have to make careful and difficult strategic decisions and persevere in implementing those decisions.

Sections of the Report Include:

  • Challenges Facing Today’s Public Libraries: A View of the World
  • The Role and Functions of Public Libraries: A View of the Library
  • Alternative Visions for Public Libraries of the Future
  • Strategic Decision Making for Public Libraries

What About Other Types of Libraries?

The focus here is on public libraries. Other types of libraries—school libraries (serving grades K through 12),  academic libraries (serving higher education and research  institutions), and special libraries (serving business, notfor-profit, and government organizations)—face many of the same challenges as public libraries, and the general  ways in which they respond will be similar. However,  their clientele, institutional settings, and purposes are  different enough to warrant separate treatment in subsequent publications.

Direct to Report(36 pages; PDF)

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.