Libraries of the future: Long term planning focus

Perhaps the most powerful use of these longer-term scenarios is in thinking about the people and facilities implications of each scenario. Librarians’ careers span perhaps 50 years and buildings often last for 100 years, so planning for these needs to take into account possible futures over the timescale of the scenarios.

Library Directors and senior management may wish to explore in more detail the ‘what ifs’ of each scenario, the implications for different types of libraries, with the aim of reaching a shared view of the robust decisions that librarians and institutions can make, which will be positive whichever scenario evolves. For example:

What sort of people should be recruited as librarians now to be able to cope under each of the three scenarios? What jobs will there be? What skills will be required?

What facilities will be needed in existing HE institutions under each scenario? Will the different functions of academic libraries – archival, access point, information source – be co-located? Will archival repositories become merged? These uncertainties suggest that facilities for access, information source and archival should be flexibly designed.

Another major factor is the extent and nature of digitisation. Should storage of digital content be migrated to a few UK Universities, with others (and other international institutions) having remote access? What is the role for paper archives and artefacts? The answers are again different in each scenario.

The developing new strategies approach can be adapted for this. The team will need to be assembled from across the institution to bring together the right mix of stakeholders and subject experts