In this fast-paced, hectic world that we inhabit, there seem to be very few opportunities to stop and ponder what our world might look like in the future.
Last month three staff members from St. Thomas Public Library did just that at the “ Libraries 2020 Symposium” held at the Royal York Hotel. Touted as “a strategic think-tank on the future of public libraries in Ontario”, the day was divided into three separate sections namely “Ontario in 2020”, “Physical Spaces in 2020” and “Digital Spaces in 2020”. So what are the futurists saying that we should expect in the year 2020 in general? Richard Worzel, Chartered Financial Analyst, best-selling author and leading futurist predicts the following:
- The birthrate will decrease as couples continue to wait until age 30 or older to have children.
- There will be many more older adults as Baby Boomers age.
- Urban centres will see growth while rural centres will decrease in population.
- Urban centres will age more slowly due to the fact that younger people will choose to live in them.
- Rural centres, on the other hand, will get older faster.
- We will experience increasing strife between the public and private sectors.
- The elderly will be more active.
- Computers will continue to improve in leaps and bounds with a predicted 1000X increase in effectiveness.
- Amazing strides will be seen in the area of robotics.
- Humans will need to redefine the purpose of work in their lives as they will be required to do less and less of it due to technological advances.
It behooves us to stop and think about these general predictions as we plan strategically for the future. What might one expect for libraries? Look for public libraries to:
- increase the use of technology to get customers from a question to the answer as quickly as possible
- become virtual learning spaces
- be less about rules and more about tools
- provide neutral venues where people can come together to share knowledge physically and virtually
- have more flexible spaces to allow them to be multi-purpose
- be more connected with other businesses and agencies surrounding them
- move past being just the “living room of the community” to being a “home away from home” for those using them