The Institute of Museum and Library Services has awarded the American Library Association a Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program grant to establish a Center for the Future of Libraries. Its goal is to provide library planners and community leaders with information resources and tools that will help them better understand the trends reshaping their libraries and communities and help them incorporate foresight into their planning processes.
The one-year, $50,000 planning grant will be coordinated by ALA Executive Director Keith Michael Fiels. During the course of the project, ALA will develop a Center for the Future of Libraries website, establish a “futures” discussion group and blog, present interactive programming at the ALA Midwinter Meeting and Annual Conference, and convene a summit of thought leaders to help shape the future direction of the center. ALA will also collaborate with the American Alliance of Museums, which established a Center for the Future of Museums in 2008.
“Because libraries must change as their communities change, librarians always have their eye on the future,” said ALA President Barbara Stripling. “They are ready to learn and adapt their programs as needs change, new technologies emerge, and the information environment offers new opportunities. By helping libraries better understand emerging trends, the new Center for the Future of Libraries will enable all librarians to continue to be on the cusp of change.”
“We see the new ALA Center for the Future of Libraries,” Fiels said, “as helping libraries in public, academic, and school communities identify emerging trends, provoke discussion on how to respond to—and shape—the future, and build connections with experts and innovative thinkers in other fields who can help libraries understand and meet the challenges of the future.”
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums.