Interesting research of relevance to public libraries…

Whilst the NMC Horizon Report > 2017 Library edition is primarily aimed at academic and research libraries, it does apply to public library future planning agendas.  It focuses on technology developments and their expected impact on libraries and is informed through a collaborative process with 77 global library thinkers. The report identifies key trends, key challenges and important technology developments that are divided into varying timeframes.  Distilling the report for public libraries requires more than a short blog post but here’s an overview which I hope motivates you all to read the full report.

In the short term – the next one to two years, libraries must increasingly value the user experience with expanding access and convenience as drivers.  Public libraries need to look to their rules, processes and biases and identify where these impede user convenience and access.  More and more we must value users’ time.  How could we use our LMS to improve convenience and allow rules to fit into individual’s lives rather than a one rule for all approach? And furthermore these need to be continuously updated as ‘people expect to be able to learn and work anywhere’ and this expectation will need to factor into all our forward planning agendas.

Over the next three to five years, the midterm, rethinking library spaces continues to be a driver of change.  Visits to libraries in Queensland continue to increase and libraries need spaces that support working, learning and teaching.  Essential programs in public libraries are focused on early literacy, digital literacy and digital citizenship activities.  Makerspaces, digital media labs, and media production studios all play essential library roles in communities as our users become creators.  Our libraries are no longer just the warehouse to house physical collections but places of active learning, creation and entrepreneurship.

Long term libraries are identifying the need for cross-collaboration.  For public libraries this means doing more things together – across institutions, Local Government areas and State Government.  Some of this is driven by efficiency – we can do more in the digital context together than as individual services.  Building shared platforms, working together on digital preservation of local history collections, responding to good data management practices and sharing our expert staff are all ways to work together for improved shared outcomes for our users. The reason this is long term is that we need to look at what barriers to collaboration are in place and seek ways to lessen their impact to allow greater collaborative projects to emerge.

The report also lists numerous articles for further reading and uses a number of case studies though these are all from the academic and research library sectors.  I recommend that libraries use the report to drive professional development within staff meetings or planning processes with senior management.  There is certainly a lot to absorb.   Happy reading!

About the author

Jane Cowell

Jane Cowell

Jane Cowell is Director, Engagement and Partnerships, State Library of Queensland. Jane believes in a strong future for the profession and wants to ensure that library professionals have the leadership capability and key evidence to be strong advocates for our profession’s ethics, impact and value of libraries, no matter which type of library they work in. Recognising the digital disruption impacting the way we do business and working together, across all types of libraries, to respond in an effective, impactful way requires a capable, continually learning and confident workforce, willing to change. As an ALIA Director, she works across the profession to realise this goal. Jane was one of the Library Professionals invited to work on the NMC Horizon Report Library Edition 2017.