Kinder, gentler libraries are dead, and there will be winners and losers.  The winners have solid strategies and action plans that support and align with a bigger and comprehensive community.  They are so embedded in their communities that funding and resources are not issues.  These successful libraries have a strong voice in their community.  Currently, there are some good examples (see our recent article on innovative services in libraries).  However, my vision is even bigger, put partnerships and collaborative projects together with other cultural and ICT communities.  More on that when I have more time!

In other words, successful libraries with strong community voices have

* built solid relationships with all the movers and shakers in their communities — the politicians, the major for-profit and not-for-profit organizations,

* formed strong partnerships with key players in their communities whether they are publishers, other community/cultural organizations or companies,

* taken a stand with other community organizations and exclaimed in a loud voice how much they impact their community in positive ways

On the other hand, the losers are those who take a narrow view and use their voice not in a collaborative, positive way but in a derisive way that shows little tolerance for the community at large.  e.g. join a union which precludes them from teaching when literacy is a most critical community goal or scream at publishers about ebook publishing/lending instead of thinking critically and problem solving with them.

As Thomas Friedman of the New York Times & author,  The World is Flat & Hot, Flat & Crowded 2.0, said yesterday at the SLA conference in Philadelphia,

*we can’t just do the job, we have to continuously reinvent it — inspire, incent & innovate

* average is dead; we all have to find our “extra” — find it, develop it, exploit it

*critical and reasoned thinking is the key to employment now and even more so in the future

*the importance of right side brain thinking is increasing — synthesis, creative, storytelling

* we have to sort the signals from the noise

* we have to use different frameworks to think afresh

* anything can be done from anywhere, and will be (flat world), so for competitive advantage you need to use your imagination and spark ideas — the world be either high or low imagination enabled

It’s a competitive world and libraries can no long be kind and gentle, or they will be dead.