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The Future of Libraries

The first day of our University of Toronto symposium, The Future of Libraries, was filled with talks and discussions about challenges for libraries; what boards, provosts and city managers are saying about libraries; what surveys and research are telling us; what our competitors are doing (and how we might partner with them or learn from them); how we can streamline our operations and gain efficiency; how libraries are dealing with change; and more.  Here are the top challenges this group articulated:

* Promotion of library services

* Staff competencies, resistance, culture

* Competitors – alignment vs duplication

* Rationalizing services, sacrifice, stop doing

*  Making our case in municipalities

* Balancing Act — electronic vs print, staff in or out of the library, service points/back room

* Future of the profession

I found it every interesting that the top challenges weren’t funding or money.  We recognize that we have choices, even if they are difficult, but we can choose where we put our resources.

Brandan Howley gave a thought provoking talk and I’m still thinking about his statement, “Future proofing libraries means managing disruption while proving relevancy.”  He discussed how libraries are cultural triggers that activate networks — very powerful!  He recommended the book, A Pattern Language, about UX (user experience).

“More libraries & their staff “get it”, understand that serious change is necessary, and ask for our help as partners not just vendors” Edmund Salt, President, Whitehots Inc.

Ken Haycock framed the event by starting us off thinking about challenges and ending with tips and strategies for influencing our stakeholders and partners.  Great discussions over the two days of the symposium around challenges and strategies for creating our future.  Thanks to all our sponsors, especially Counting Opinions and Whitehots.  More then ever in the recent few years, I feel that libraries have a positive future which they are already creating by aligning with their community partners!

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