Futures Thinking, Past Publishing

Today, the ACRL released the 33-page “Futures Thinking for Academic Librarians: Higher Education in 2025” by David J Staley (director of the Harvey Goldberg Center for Excellence in Teaching in the History Department of Ohio State University) and  Kara J. Malenfant (ACRL scholarly communications and government relations specialist). I have come across Dr Staley’s work before in projects relating to the use of technology to present history and historical collections and have been impressed by his early grasp of the ways in which new technologies would and should profoundly change the nature of academic writing. [Staley, David J, From Writing to Associative Assemblages: ‘History’ in an Electronic Culture. from Writing, Teaching and Researching History in the Electronic Age. 1998. Sharp.]

This will undoubtedly be a provocative report and the impetus for much professional soul-searching. However, there is a definite irony in a futures report in which the “editable” appendix (with a suggested activity for academic libraries) is offered in the form of a Word document as opposed to being published one of the many suitable tools available in the social media/online collaboration realm. Was this choice borne of

  • a fear of the transience of “the cloud”,
  • an (perhaps unwitting) adherence to familiar writing/publishing tools,
  • the desire to give the feeling of ownership over their version of the appendix to the participating libraries,
  • the belief that the more traditional formats will be more acceptable to a larger audience, or
  • a combination of these and/or other factors?

This seems to point to an opportunity to study not only what is being said about libraries and social media but how this work is being presented and shared. Are highlighted trends and suggestions in reports such as this one being reinforced by their publishing format?

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One Response to Futures Thinking, Past Publishing

  1. dan says:

    Yeah the whole report could benefit from being published on a website, even, rather than only in PDF. The social media policy generator was a good example of how to use more up to date, and frankly easier, publishing methods to achieve personal and branded documents from boilerplate.

    But it also takes more time, and if there’s one thing that librarians don’t feel they have enough of, it’s that.

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