Changing the way librarians think about the future

Thomas Frey spoke at LIANZA14 recently,  I didn’t attend but if the tweets were anything to go by, the audience was distinctly underwhelmed. As one of them said, yes in the future things will be different.

I’ve just revisited an article by Brian Mathews called The librarian as futurist: changing the way libraries think about the future.  In it Brian doesn’t speculate on what is going to happen in the future but suggests that librarians should focus on how things could change by using scenario planning, being change literate and being comfortable with ambiguity.

Perhaps one of the most interesting ideas in his essay is around change literacy. For students change literacy is an advantage as they enter the workforce – being able to monitor information, identify strategic insights, apply and adapt ideas. For librarians it is an opportunity for us to move beyond keepers of information and even collaborators in knowledge production, to facilitators of change. Brian acknowledges this may seem out of place for us but he points out libraries have been role models for organisational change through what we have done with learning spaces, collection migrations and new literacies. Furthermore we would continue what we have always done, help simplify complexity, enrich information and generate ideas through conversation within our communities:

successfully embracing and enacting a future-orientated program will position librarians not only to demonstrate a capacity and comfort with change, but the ability and expertise to help others shape their futures as well

There is a  well what does it all really mean aspect to this term change literacy, and if you have other insights it would be great to hear about them. For Brian, libraries could fill a niche around gathering and synthesising information into insights, and devising future road maps:

In short, librarians could serve as futurists by providing strategic foresight support to aid success for our parent institutions.

Or as he also puts in librarians becoming practitioners of futurist knowledge creation.

In many ways this is not too far from some of the work that librarians do, particularly in special libraries, around monitoring future trends, and reporting on these. Or in this example where QUT Library looked at a trend report and created a new tool for customers.

I found some other gems in the article.

This point seemed particularly pertinent when we are thinking about our how we develop our services around research, teaching and learning. Do we really do enough of this?:

We should not concern ourselves with the future of libraries. Instead we should focus on the factors driving change within the communities we serve and partner with

And what would this look like, as we work towards ways to measure our impact and demonstrate how we deliver value?:

We are witnessing an interesting shift in the library profession toward more anthropological assessment measures – perhaps this will help us inject new thinking beyond the dominant quantitative mindset. When libraries served more as warehouse utilities, data-driven decision-making was crucial, but now as more of our work increasingly revolves around forming complex relationships and ongoing interactions, a more humanistic approach is required for growth and improvement

Great round-up of library marketing resources from Kathy Dempsey

This presentation has a great round-up of useful books, blogs and websites on all things to do with Library marketing. Check it out:

<div style=”margin-bottom:5px”> <strong> <a href=”; title=”Where to Find Library Marketing Info” target=”_blank”>Where to Find Library Marketing Info</a> </strong> from <strong><a href=”; target=”_blank”>Libraries Are Essential consultancy</a></strong> </div>

Promoting our recreational reading collection

We have a smallish collection of novels in our academic library to give staff and students the option of relaxing with a book, rather than studying one. This collection is receiving a promotional boost pre-Christmas with this eye-catching display on level 1 of our library on the Manawatū campus. Our lending team have put this together and utilised some clever 3D effects to give some visual interest.


Love the humour!IMG_2408

IMG_2407I think I fancy a little Riesling with my reading this summer!

Do you have a rec reading collection in your academic or special library? How do you go about promoting it?



Tell us what you like! Getting student input

At Massey University Library we are reorganising some of the student areas on level 1 of our building on the Manawatū campus. As part of this project my colleagues on the project team are gathering feedback from students about what types of furniture they would like.

Their method for gathering feedback is straightforward and simple – and utterly brilliant.

A display has been set up to gather the feedback. There are visuals for the different furniture options and a short description for each. Nothing too wordy here:

photo (11)


Students can vote for the furniture options they would like:

photo (14)


They also have the option to add other comments on post-it notes:

photo (12)


And this has to be my favourite post-it :-)

photo (2)In addition we have also given students the option to comment on our Library blog, Library Out Loud, and via our Facebook page.



BrandLibraries update for LIANZA 2013

Last week the BrandLibraries Working Party that I am part of presented an update to the LIANZA 2013 conference on the project.

The slides for our short presentation can be viewed below. The slides are pretty self-explanatory but if you have any questions do feel free to post them in the comments. The project is at an exciting time, with BRR Ltd currently in their Discovery phase, interviewing stakeholders and visiting libraries. Branding the libraries of an entire country, and taking into account all of the library sectors, is a pretty ambitious undertaking, and it will be interesting to see what BRR comes back to us with! One of the people I connected with at conference was Sarah Fry, from Nelson City Libraries. Sarah has a background in communication and journalism, and her comment  was that we should make sure we don’t send out too complicated a brand message. I think if it was left to librarians that is exactly what could happen – by engaging with BRR we stand a much better chance of getting it right!


You can also check out our January 2013 update to LIANZA Council on the LIANZA website.