In no particular order, here are my predictions for 2011.
- More public and school libraries will close. Academic libraries will be scaled back.
For the first sentence, it’s a money/political will issue. For the second sentence, it is colleges and universities attempting to cut costs. I’d like to start off on a happier note, but I’m afraid I cannot.
- There will be more paywalls to content.
As business tries to capitalize on the web, there will be more incentive to either demand a subscription or pay a la carte for content (either by the article, the issue, or a combination of both). Libraries will be forced retune their budgets in order to continue content delivery.
- There will be an ereader company that will work with libraries.
Perhaps more of a product of wishful thinking, but I’d like to imagine that one of these companies figures out that there is money in this end of the government sector. I realize there is a matter of working with publishers on this one, but getting the devices on board is a key element.
- There will be a copyright reckoning.
The DMCA is in dire need of updating. With the rise of ebooks, there is an excellent chance to makes changes that move the pendulum back from licensing and towards ownership. There is a lot at stake here.
- There will be a philosophical shakeup in the profession.
Personally, I think the shakeup would be in how librarians treat each other. Part of the reason I wrote the Big Tent Librarianship article is that there are times when I don’t feel that profession is moving as one big team. It’s factional and fractious at a time when it really needs to come together. So, that’s my hope.
- The libraries that start new construction this year will be based more around spaces and services rather than the collection itself.
I believe in the mindset that there will be a move to digital for the things that make sense, keeping physical material where needed or desired by patrons, and the rest will be able making a place for people to convene. The Great Good Place will be about the community space and not about the collection space.
- Despite everything, it will still be a good year to be a librarian.
It may be the optimist in me, but the technology will continue to get better. People will still call upon the profession for assistance of all kinds. Communication and cooperation will mean that more information will be available to the average person than any other time in history. The continued sluggish economy will mean that internet access will be an essential part of our services. There will be bright spots to the profession.
Here’s to a better 2011!