Strategy for Academic Libraries in the Next Quarter Century

This was probably the most controversial session I attended, but forecasting is often controversial. David Lewis outlined what he thought would occur over the next 25 years.

  • we need to finish the migration from print to electronic, particularly reference collections and journals and start planning for move to ebooks
  • retire legacy collections (ie. put jstor journals in storage)
  •  create diversity of user study spaces
  • reposition information tools, resources, and expertise – be where the students are (google), embed librarians – less routine interaction and more technology and personal relationships, provide new services for research and scholarship
  • move from purchasing material to curating content – this will be the result of open access scholarship, partons will be less reliant on local collections. Lewis predicts that while we spend 80/20 on material purchase and content curating, this will change to 40/60.

While this may seem difficult to achieve, Lewis believes it can be accomplished. He stresses repositioning oursevles and change our service model. He sees a hybrid model of librarian/technologist/instructional design with skills including teaching new information skills, develop and manage information support systems and building collections of curated content. This transformation will take some time to achieve.

Other thoughts included meeting the needs of the undemanding before addressing those of the demanding. I’m not sure this is possible, as the demanding are often the impatient ones who will make life difficult. Another point was to watch what patrons are doing rather than asking them. This makes more sense, as patrons often don’t realize what they want and asking puts them on the spot.


About theweelibrarian

Liaison Librarian extraordinaire! Interests in libraries and technology, virtual worlds, gov pubs, fun and chocolate.
This entry was posted in Academic Librarianship, CNI2007, conferences. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Strategy for Academic Libraries in the Next Quarter Century

  1. victor says:

    Enjoyed reading your post.

    I am the editor of Bookyards, a free online library and educational portal located at

    We started 7 years ago with the idea of having a simple library on the net. During this time I have been lucky to see how much the internet has profoundly affected the collection and spread of information.

    Three months ago we made the decision to enhance our sight, and to go full speed towards the direction that you have outlined in your post.

    Reading posts like yours not only encourages us that what we are doing is the direction that we should go…… but it also convinces us that the biggest impact that the web will have will be in the areas of education, information, and the management of said content.

  2. Pingback: Changing Info Needs « the wee librarian

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