For some reason - maybe the amount of recent media coverage of changes in the newspaper industry - parallels between changes in the world of journalism and changes in the world of librarianship continue to be on my mind. Today I was catching up on the various blogs I follow and several of them had posts on topics related to the future of journalism, so I'm not alone in pondering these things. (I know, I need to get a life!) Some of the things that caught my attention -
The Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism just published its annual report on The State of the News Media. I haven't had time to read the report in depth, but a few of the trends that they identify seemed as relevant for librarians as they are for journalists. For example "On the Web, news organizations are focusing somewhat less on bringing audiences in and more on pushing content out." has clear parallels with the conversations many of us in the library world are having about how to serve people outside the walls of the library building. And the idea that "The concept of partnership, motivated in part by desperation, is becoming a major focus of news investment and it may offer prospects for the financial future of news" has clear parallels in libraries' efforts to build strong networks of community partnerships in the recognition that in a world of scarce resources we need to work collaboratively with other organizations for the benefit of all.
The Pew finding that "The data also suggest a clear trend in the changing nature of how Americans now learn about the world around them. People are relying more heavily — both during peak moments and in general — on platforms that can deliver news when audiences want it rather than at appointed times, a sign of a growing “on demand” news culture. People increasingly want the news they want when they want it." only needs to have the word "information" substituted for "news" to be as true for libraries as it is for journalism.
I also found today's Fast Company article on What Should Replace Your Defunct Local Paper thought-provoking. It talks about how the shift from print to online news and the demise of local newspapers is creating a gap in truly local coverage that has not really been filled. It made me wonder (again! - see this post from January) what role the library could play in making truly local information available to our communities.
The last post that caught my eye was also from Fast Company, but on a totally different topic. It asks the questions Do We Really Need Architects? It's obviously not about either the news media or libraries, but it sure reinforces the "citizen...." theme that I've been thinking and posting about! It seems that change is afoot in many professions, not just librarianship and journalism, as citizens are increasingly able to do for themselves what professionals used to do for them.
My thoughts about what all of this means for librarians are still forming, but as I alternate work on our Strategic Plan, which forces me to think about the longer term future, with trying to navigate the harsh realities of the impact of the economic climate on our budget, thoughts about the future of our profession are never far from the top of my mind. The two things I do know are that "business as usual" is a road to nowhere and that with lots of thought, conversations, and experimentation our profession is capable of transforming to meet new realities...it's only the details of that transformation that aren't clear!