Every so often I like to go back to the 2006 Taiga Forum’s Provocative Statements, and see how much closer we’ve drifted to those ominous-seeming (?) predictions. Cherry-picking a few here that have to do with my areas of interest…
Within the next five years…
- traditional library organizational structures will no longer be functional….Public services and instructional technology, wherever it exists, will have merged or will no longer exist. I’m actually hopeful that public services and instruction (with technology added in where appropriate) will persist in libraries (or library-like organizations) long after we’ve put all the books in storage. Study after study shows that now more than ever, people need help organizing, managing, and interpreting information. Though I do think that smart libraries are taking a close look at public services and instruction, and writing up statements of purpose that say something like, “We exist to teach and serve the users of this institution.”
- the majority of reference questions will be answered through Google Answers or something like it…Metasearching will render reference librarians obsolete. Um, I don’t think so. Again, I think smart libraries are looking at declining desk stats and figuring out how to offer digital services, but I don’t think the wisdom of crowds is yet to the point where it can take over from academic reference librarians. Although there’s definitely bleed there, already. I’ve posted about this before.
- all information discovery will begin at Google, including library resources. Yeah, I think this one’s going to become effectively (if not actually) true. I can hear the special collections librarians shrieking.
- ‘intermediate environments’ will be as important as consumers of library services as end users. Convoluted, but it basically means that library services and resources will surface and be used in Facebook, RSS aggregators, CMS systems, Flickr, etc. I think this is a good thing, and I don’t think most libraries have really got on this bus fast enough.
- research support services will become routine. Given that there’s also a prediction that librarians will be a thing of the past (replaced by MBAs, apparently), I’m not sure who’s going to provide this support. Safe to say that not everything in this list is going to come true right away, I think. 😉