Posted: Tuesday, September 4, 2012, 9:38 am
Recently, while going through some old files at the Library (librarians never throw anything away), we discovered something very interesting.
Twenty-five years ago in 1987, a community planning committee was convened to work on the library's next strategic plan. As part of the process, the committee outlined several possible scenarios for the library's future. Specifically, they attempted to envision what the Library would be like in 1993. Although most of their projections were not realized in that timeframe, they were amazingly accurate in predicting the library's future.
by Chuck Gibson
Although only Old Worthington Library existed at the time, they believed the community would be best served by three physical locations. This became a reality when Worthington Park Library opened in 2008 (Northwest Library opened in 1996). 1987 was a time when home computers were a rarity, but the committee predicted people would someday be able to use them to access information, contact a librarian and watch video of library programs. They also saw a future when barcodes would be used to scan and check out books, which, as you know, is exactly how it works today.
Librarians are very good at analyzing data and determining future trends. In order to provide residents with what they need, we have to evaluate new technology, services, materials and programs to determine what makes sense for our community and is the best use of limited library resources.
In 2000, I was asked to play prognosticator for the spring issue of Ohio Libraries. We had survived the Y2K apocalypse and the future of technology was looking bright. I was asked to write about reference services in 2015. I predicted that computers would become vastly more powerful, that e-books would become mainstream, many physical formats would disappear and that reference help would largely be delivered online instead of in person.
What did I get wrong? I thought e-books would easily overtake their print ancestors in terms of popularity and people would come to quickly prefer that format. While that may happen yet, many people, including those who are young, still prefer printed books.
Nobody's perfect, right? In 1987, that community planning committee also predicted robots would be seen buzzing around the Library, reshelving books and pulling reserved titles. What matters most is that we continue to look to the future, analyze trends and work to provide the best library service possible. We are currently working on our next strategic plan. If you have a vision for the Library or know of a trend we should be paying attention to, please let me know. You can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.