Forecasting the future

22 01 2013

I was going to write about how we can influence our politicians about the role of the TL, but then that made me ask, “What is the role of the TL in today’s school libraries? What are we advocating for?”  Then I had to ask, “Can we define a role for the TL if we don’t know what the place we will work in looks like?”  If we don’t begin with the end in mind, how can we ensure our  steps will lead to the desired destination?

In 1998, as a fledgling TL, my principal asked me, “Why do we need a library when everything is on the Internet?”  Fifteen years on, that seems to be a belief rather than a question, and we are continually having to address it.  In that 15 years many have pondered what the future school library will look like, even whether the school library has a future.  Concepts such Librarian 2.0 have been introduced but what will Library 2.0 look like?

Will it be ““totally virtual, with librarians reaching users thru FB, one search interface for everything, resource info embedded in code in online courses, within five years,[driven by] learning analytics, game based learning, the Internet of Things and gesture based computing” as one colleague predicted?  Should that be the model we aspire to?  If it is, what evidence is there that such a model will meet the needs, interests and abilities  of our clients?  What is the evidence that it will not?

I believe that the future of a school’s library should be shaped by its users – and this needs to be a consultative, collaborative process among the students, staff and parents based on the school’s philosophy and ethos, research, best pedagogy and practice  and closely aligned to the future of the school itself.  There can be no one-size-fits-all.

When the future is forecast, then the TL can put the policies, programs, processes and practices into place which will enable the achievement of the goal, and then, within that, carve out their role.  THEN, they will know what they are advocating for, why they are doing it and how best to do it.

What will your school library look like in five years?  What are you doing to ensure that it does?  Share your ideas so we can share your initiatives.

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