In a recent Q&A, Computers in Libraries 2013 speaker Daniel Rasmus shared his insight into the future and evolution of libraries and we’d like to share his insights with you! Daniel, the author of Listening to the Future, is a strategist and industry analyst who helps clients put their future in context. Rasmus uses scenarios to analyze trends in society, technology, economics, the environment, and politics in order to discover implications used to develop and refine products, services and experiences.
Our theme for CIL this year is Evolving in New Directions. How do you see our world evolving with respect to technology over the next few years?
I think we will see a continued movement for the digitization of content, but I think we will also see a continued movement toward statistical vs. cognitive models of computing, which will limit our ability to find meaningful connections within that connect, and between people. We will create correlation without context. Mobility will continue to evolve, and most likely, it will become relatively invisible over the next decade at the personal level, manifesting visually only when in the proximity of output displays or other people.
What innovative things have you seen libraries doing that others could learn from?
I think libraries that act more as curators than repositories is an interesting direction. Given what I said above about the lack of cognitive models in computing, that implies that humans will remain the primary source for insight. Understanding what is important at the moment, to the individual, or the community, could be an important role for libraries. Leadership and political position would need to be asserted in order for the role of the library to establish itself. Some futures, more so than others, make this role of the library more or less possible.
Are there new skills necessary to evolve libraries in the future?
I don’t think new skills, but a renewal of skills—skills like knowledge mining and relationship building. When libraries were the main source of a community’s deeper knowledge (including university libraries) they tended to act as a core or attractor for those seeking knowledge. As the Internet disintermediated content, we start to hold the false assumption that the distribution and the crowd would replace the need for meaningful sense making. What we find, however, is that meaningful sense making still requires a type of centralized dialog and debate, even if those in the debate are distributed. Libraries, and librarians, need to mediate this sense making activity more so now than ever, and as applied above, that means moving from role of knowledge servant to knowledge leader.
Daniel will be presenting the following sessions:
- Wednesday, April 10 Keynote — Uncertainty & Imagination: Evolving Libraries Through Technology
- Thursday, April 11 — W19: Putting the Future in Context: Libraries 2020
Follow Daniel online