Designing a 21st Century Roadmap for Public Libraries

Designing a 21st Century Roadmap for Public Libraries: Tapping Our Inner Futurist Friday, April 26, 2013 in Upper Merion, PA with Garry Golden, Forward Elements, Inc.  Now available: Program PDF.

Supported by IMLS (they gave us a really cool hand-out)

Quote exercise:

  • My quote: “The way we see the problem is the problem.” – Stephen Covey
  • Alice’s Quote: “Wisdom is not a destination, it is an infinite process of looking from different perspectives.” – Nora Bateson
  • We thought it was interesting how our quotes were complementary. 
  • “Fear does not change, it perpetuates mediocrity.” – Plan for resistance.
  • “Striving for excellence motivates you, striving for perfection demoralizes you.” – Expect failure, expect uncertainty.
  • “What you need more than expertise, is curiosity.” – No fear in children – they’re all curiosity. Investigate, ask questions, tell it like it is – Think like a child.
  • “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” Frederick Douglas  Engage early. Influence people early in life.
  • “No two persons ever read the same book.” – “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”
  • “Make excellent mistakes.” – Let your reach exceed your grasp.  Power of the vision.  “Road to innovations is saying no to 1,000 things.” – Steve Jobs
  • “A problem is a chance for you to do your best.” – Duke Ellington
  • “The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that we aim too low and we reach it.” – Bars in libraries are WAY too LOW.  Change the culture of the library to have higher expectations (Money follows the vision).
  • “When you’re through changing, your’e through.”

What’s Not Changing?

  • Money / funding issues – always expected to do more with less.  Let’s do something different with less.
  • Human Nature – face to face, go to a place, express, learn.
  • Printed Materials and Communication – Books are going to be craft oriented, libraries will PRINT the books, printed things | Place | Need for Libraries – not going into a post-institutional world
  • Desire to learn | Growing old | Inequality of access (haves and have-nots)
  • Change is the Only Constant

How Do We Communicate our Value?

  • Statistics and outputs focus on Access & Usage (Access to Collections mission)
  • =====>>>>>
  • Stories – Outcomes focused on Behavior Change (Mastery of Skills mission)  Who got jobs? Who changed their behavior? How did student reading habits improve?
  • Libraries have an opportunity to look at the impact they have on individual behavior


  • You don’t get better by focusing on the problems. Focus on the strategic, not the tactical
  • Go with the more difficult. Don’t be surprised.
  • Commit to moving towards the one thing that I don’t understand or makes me feel uncomfortable.

Foresight 101

  • Identifying and Monitoring Change – Horizon scanning (what’s happening today), Issue analysis
  • Exploring Implications – Extrapolating, scenarios
  • Communicating the Need for Change – visioning, planning, assessment & eval, Culture change
  • Vision to move us Forward and into a Different Direction
  • Mechanisms of Change:
    • Trends like age trends, educational trends, continuity
    • Events – elections, catastrophes,
    • Choices – Future we want to see, investments in people and places
  • Emerging Issues & Trends > Framing > Mainstreaming > Resolution/Plateau
    • Futurists look at emerging and framing issues  & trends
      • Rise of Personal Data – we are data factories: FB, mint, amazon, fitbit, youtube, foursquare, g+, onstar, mealmobs – young people can control their flow of information.
      • Will we share our data?  How? Anonymous social data and its use
      • Eventually there will be a court case for business rights to use personal data
    • What are our big Questions to Respond to in next 5 years?
      • Mine: “How do we make ourselves invaluable to our Community?”
    • Are we selling the lower stress benefits of learning within libraries?
    • Digital literacy as a 21st century skillset (WJ Post “truth teller”) – information consumers
      • Up the game in how we define literacy. Aim higher. Teach an understanding of algorithms
    • Social Radar Dashboard – take the pulse of the people using personal data.  Libraries need to use unstructured data to have insights and see trends.
    • Manufacturing Institute – What micro-credentials do you have? What skills do you have?
    • How do we rethink the role of libraries in certifications of lifelong learning? Library as a Knowledge Building Institution
  • I-shaped individual – depth of subject expertise v. T-shaped individual – dept and broad set of skillsets & mindsets

Lifelong Learning – deep thought portion

  • Era of Apprenticeship > Disruptions of Books & Industrial works
  • Era of Institution / schools (as we know it are post-WWII) > Disruptions of Web & Knowledge Economy
  • Era of Learner > lifelong learners.  Schools become social environments in this era
    • Self-aware, self-directed. Responsibility is at the individual level.
    • Khan Academy. Pacing: some people learn differently.  Go learn how you learn best and then come into the classroom to do the homework.  Everyone at the same starting block, then you can engage.
    • We will be used – more demand for our services. Strengthen partnerships with schools in a  “flipped classroom” world.
    • MOOCs – Massive open online courses: coursera, edX, udncity.  FREE. 200,000 people taking a course, but only 2,000 are active.  Maybe 200 finish the course.   Early days.
    • Instructor Culture: Dr. Oz, Oprah, Dr. Phil, chefs.  YouTube! How do we curate instructors and bring them into our collection/library?
      • Community Instructors – SkillShare –
      • What is the Library’s role in this Learner Era – identifying instructors, training instructors, teach how to teach, teach how to train, teach how to youtube 😉
    • Web now is a platform for managing our lives and personal behavior change. Manage our personal growth.  Younger and other leading adopters are doing this.
  • Era Transition: Adaptive Learning/Media Consumption
    • Structure – not just a web site, but there’s a system that understands how we learn and helps us
    • Knewton Adaptive Learning Platform with Jose Ferreira – personalized learning
    • IBMWatson – Work with cognitive computing systems. Assists decision-making, for example in hospitals
    • Library Collection will be data sets – we need a big enough pipe to manage this, the learning, the consumption.
  • Access Battle is the wrong battle to have in libraries (DRM).  Real battle is how do libraries have access to the behavior data stream.  Amazon understands human behavior better, so they can serve better.
  • We need Feedback Loops.  Like, don’t like, need the “I don’t understand” button.  Challenges, complications, but we need to figure this out!
  • Data Value
  • Descriptive – what happened? >  Predictive – what might happen? > Prescriptive – what should happen?  Example, book recommendations that are prescriptive.  When and how?
  • What Can We Learn Weight Watchers – Now borrow from “Gaming Mechanics” Design Principles:
    • Rules and Rewards
    • Quests and Challenges
    • Badges and Recognition
    • Reputation Management
    • Teamwork & Strategy
    • Continual Feedback
    • Experience Design = Novice to Expert level skills
    • Health Industry is leading the data-driven experience design.  Fitbit to get discounts on healthcare
    • Education – Playground Piano.  Quest to learn enough to play a concert in 30 days.  Stages, levels, quests.
    • Library to provide Pathways to learning > Pathway Experiences.
  • How might libraries help learners tell stories of their growth and development?
    • Badges – representative of a skill or achievement (Mozilla)
    • YALSA
  • Work Force Development at the Library
    • Resume with Word, but then what’s next?
    • Portfolio of your demonstrated work
    • Managing your Presence online – most important skill
  • Concept to Watch:
    • Learning Graph – Big body of knowledge, example “History of Penn” > Basic, In Progress, Expert Level and the rest which is the map of your ignorance.  Visualize your learning

Retooling Local – The controversial part

  • From collections to connections
  • How do we go back to Local?
  • Library to help with work force development
  • Unique to our local community? | What are potential missing ingredients to success? | What barriers need to be removed?
  • More you can localize resources, the more wealth is created and captured.  Local Economic Premium.  Work with our local economy players.
  • Knight Foundation – ‘food desert’ – Understanding communities at crossroads (research)
  • What role does the institution play in solving the problem?  How Do We Help??
  • Become an Outlet for Engaging in Local Platforms
    • OpenColorado, local data, data-driven tools and databases.
    • Become a pipeline for the data sets
    • Host the tools – teach how to convert data into wisdom
    • sunlight foundation
    • Project Noah – Citizen X Tools > Citizen science data is aggregated
  • Neighbor Goods > Airbnb > Social Connections as Marketplace
    • Why not just have our own stash of tools to check out?
  • The more our community knows itself and can change where needed, the better off we will be.
  • Local Dashboard idea
  • Civicwage: Issues engagement > Widescope (We already do this, it’s part of our original mission) | Aunt (social services) or Code for America or Oakland crimespotting

Place-Based Experiences – Bricks and Mortar

  • Third Place Environments: Libraries, bookstores, coffee shops
  • Pop-up libraries > Social Discovery
  • Managing identity on the Go : tell you what you’re doing.  Make sure the LIBRARY is in there.  Book club, lectures, studying, etc.
  • Geocaching movement – What is the Library’s cache?  Make the community into a game, a discovery game.  Geo-fencing – border.  Glympse / geoloqi.   Opt in based on location, time and activity. Can receive texts from the Library!
  • Telegraph Avenue – Place-based story extensions.  Dynamic space.  Change the physical environment.  Decorate, immersive
  • Outreach > go to them > Book exchanges
  • Crowdsourcing > Kickstarting or indiegogo  Demand = funding by the users
  • Place As Service > Meeting room, amenities, charge for space, Maker Spaces
    • Integrate Design, manufacturing and play
    • Collaboration Spaces – book “Make Space”
    • 20-somethings ’emerging adulthood’ > new lifestage  How do we help them?
    • Ignite events, TED talks, programs to meet other people – 5 slides, 5 speakers
    • Creative Aging Environments > Active aging (Metlife)  Thriving seniors
    • Hacker Space – reinvent, fix with a ‘good enough’ solution, host hack-a-thons
    • Purpose driven events to solve civic problems
  • Resources: artplace, pps, place makers, engaging places, social spaces, make space, etc.

The end

Find informed and passionate people to follow. Projects to follow.


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