McMaster University Libraries: Transforming our Future

August 18, 2006

Embracing Change?!

Filed under: Library 2.0 — by ultransform @ 10:22 am

Many of us participated in an “Embracing Change” workshop earlier this summer and recognize that change involves a lot of uncertainty. Since the Transformation Team was established many colleagues have asked me – ‘what exactly will this change look like?’ or ‘what exactly am I supposed to embrace?’ My answer: we don’t know. yet.

I’m not about to predict the future but I feel an obligation to think strategically about it!

For me, embracing change means looking forward with a deliberately positive approach. It also means: taking individual responsibility while working collegially, and being well informed about a multitude of issues (libraries, learning, higher education….). Personally I found the Taiga Forum (March 2006) Provocative Statements to be an interesting snapshot of the possible future of academic libraries. Some excerpts:

Within the next FIVE YEARS:

  • traditional library organizational structures will no longer be functional.
  • libraries will have reduced the physical footprint of the physical collection within the library proper by at least 50 percent.
  • the majority of reference questions will be answered through Google Answer or something like it. There will no longer be reference desks or reference offices in the library. Instead, public services staff offices will be located outside the physical library. Metasearching will render reference librarians obsolete.
  • a large number of libraries will no longer have local OPACs.
  • academic computing and libraries will have merged. The library will be a partner in the Learning and Research Support Services Infrastructure.
  • there will be no more librarians as we know them. Staff may have MBAs or be computer/data scientists. All library staff will need the technical skills equivalent to today’s systems and web services personnel.

Very provocative. For more background on why we are looking at the ‘transformed library’ at all, check out Libraries Dealing with the Future Now .

Cheers, Barbara McDonald


1 Comment »

  1. Mark Twain once said: “All you need is ignorance and confidence and the success is sure.” Moving forward into a future that may look very different than the present can be frightening, depending on how we choose to evaluate the predictions and evaluations that library professionals and experts have been extrapolating around the world for the past decade or so. But we need not feel fear or intimidation as we look forward to the future of McMaster University Library: I suggest we approach transformation with an equal measure of optimism and enthusiasm!

    I have embraced Jeffery and Barbara’s blog posts because it thrills me to have come to the realisation that I have a great deal of confidence in the people guiding the library toward a vibrant and exciting future. Not only that, forums such as this are empowering ME to make my own personal contribution to the process. As a community, we share a wealth of knowledge about what excellent library service is all about: what we have learned over time is invaluable to the transformation process that lies before us. Change is inevitable. The form that it will take, and the way we react to it, is crucial to the continued success of the library.


    Tamara Monster
    Library Assistant
    H. G. Thode Science & Engineering Library
    McMaster University

    Comment by Tamara Monster — August 24, 2006 @ 10:40 am |Reply

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