Sometimes I think it pointless to plan too much for the future as it doesn’t exist yet and we have absolutely no way of predicting how it will pan out. Listening to the point of view of ecologists, who warn us that we have passed peak oil and have caused irreconcilable damage to the planet, there is little doubt that the future will mean enormous change to the way we live whether we like it or not. In fact the less change that we make now (from small things like recycling and eating less meat to much bigger changes, like changing our whole worldview and the way we perceive the natural world )the more change we will be forced to make in the future. At the moment though, few people are interested in learning about ecology being preoccupied instead with the economy. Too often care for the environment is seen as getting in the way of economic growth. Of course with so many people unemployed, economic growth is all most people are hoping for!
I was therefore interested to see in the 21st Century Libraries reading that one of the drivers of change in our thinking of library buildings and services is environmental sustainability. Not only are libraries excellent examples of the sustainable practise of reuse but they also provide access to quality information regarding environmental issues. But the most important aspect of the library’s role for the future, as far as I can see is its emphasis on community. All of the environmental initiatives that I have seen happen over the years, from community organic gardens to housing and food co-operatives have all been grounded in the concept of community. And if people are going to come together to make positive sustainable change within their community, what better place than the library to do it!
I’ve talked about the changing role of libraries and the potential for change within libraries in previous blogs so I feel that I haven’t got much more to add on the subject although on the other hand I feel that there is too much to say! There are many different points of view regarding the future of libraries and I can see truth in them all. I think the most important things for future LIS professionals to keep in mind will be to keep abreast of current ICT developments, to constantly look for opportunities for improvement, change and collaboration and to teach library users how to best search for and find quality information.