A stellar cast of international leaders in their disciplines have combined to provide a thought-provoking book on the art of the possible, sharing their extensive experience and visions for a different but exciting future for academic librarianship. Their contributions are aimed at stimulating ideas and identifying challenges that will be faced in the not-toodistant future. Library leaders, managers, would-be managers, library and information science educators and academic library staff will find useful information that can be applied today, as well as issues for envisioning a different academic library future.
Over the years, there have been many articles and books on the future of library services. While some articles have suggested the end of libraries, most offer a thoughtful insight into the need to be constantly monitoring our environment and the needs of our customers. An emerging theme that develops from the literature is the importance of managing change. Sapp and Gilmour (2003, 14) sum this up effectively: ‘Change happens. Transformation, however, is planned.’ The future will be different, and we can help shape the future if we have models, insights and visions that stimulate innovative management and practice.
Another theme in the literature on future library services is that change keeps happening. So although there have been past predictions, it is important to keep scanning the horizon and developing new visions of what academic library services could be like. Therefore, to help inform future transformations in academic library services, this book brings together a series of essays by international experts to provide a firm basis from where we can envisage a new future.
This book comes at a challenging time. The global financial crisis has focused attention on the need to be more efficient but also to continue to innovate. Lowry et al. (2009, 17) note that financial pressures ‘will incentivise some libraries to make profound organizational change rather than incremental adjustments’. Back in 1994, Hawkins wrote an entire article on the need to move beyond incremental adjustments: ‘Creating the Library of the Future: incrementalism won't get us there!’ (Hawkins, 1994). However, the future is more likely to be a series of incremental changes as well as major new initiatives.