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Young adults and four key trends shaping the future of libraries

Yalsa magazine

The fall 2013 issue of Young Adult Library Services (YALS) features the future of libraries with a focus on young adult services (naturally). I have an article in this issue that takes a big-picture view.

The Future of Libraries is now frequently discussed within the library community. Writers, analysts, and journalists reference it in subjects ranging from the design of physical spaces and access to ebooks to makerspaces and leadership development for librarians–easily over a hundred topics. Given this opportunity to contemplate a bit, after stepping back I converged on four themes that I explore:

  • Declining professional control over decision making
  • Technological advance is the new normal
  • Increasing importance of reaching beyond the library community
  • Future role of libraries in society = work in progress

My article also points to a number of the ongoing significant initiatives and projects about the future of libraries. I conclude with the observation that the profound challenge for the community of young adult librarians extends far beyond enabling library services today, as it also includes developing and inculcating a framework for information services that will serve young adults for decades to come–a great responsibility.

The other articles in this issue of Young Adult Library Services discuss the future of libraries from various other perspectives and I urge you to take a look. The full text for all of these articles will be online in several months. Meanwhile, I do have some print copies available for those who just cannot wait–drop me a line (ainouye [at] alawash [dot] org) and I can send you a copy–while they last.

What are your opinions and goals for the future of libraries and services for young adults? Let us know in the comment section.

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Alan Inouye

Alan S. Inouye is the director of ALA's Office for Information Technology Policy. Previously, he was the coordinator of the President's Information Technology Advisory Committee in the Executive Office of the President and a study director at the National Academy of Sciences. Alan completed his Ph.D. at the University of California at Berkeley.

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