Monthly Archives: August 2010

21st Century Library – “Rebooted” Into Relevance

In May, 2009, Stephen Abram published a Post on his Stephen’s Lighthouse Blog titled The Library Rebooted. He promoted this wonderfully eye-opening article by Scott Corwin, Elisabeth Hartley & Harry Hawkes for many very good reasons.

Now seems like an excellent time to highlight and re-emphasize that article – “The Library Rebooted” published at Booz & Company website strategy+business. (You’ll need to create a free account, but it’s more than worth it. If it doesn’t take you to the article, just Search: rebooted.)

As Abram wrote; “I heartily recommend it.” I wholeheartedly agree, because it discusses in very real terms and examples how “Even in an era when you can “Google” just about anything, many libraries have remained as vibrant, dynamic, and popular as ever. They’re staying that way by redefining the business they’re in.[Emphasis added.]

Even despite the authors’ observation that

“The Internet has supplanted that core function of the library’s purpose by giving users access to much of the world’s information in roughly the time it takes them to start their computers and make a cup of coffee. In the era of the instantaneous Google search, information research and retrieval are irrevocably changed. And Google itself has, to all appearances, stepped into the library business directly with a massive project in which it intends to digitize all of the world’s books.”

they go on to point out that

“There are the public, or community, libraries, usually funded by local city and state taxes and charged with a civic mission. They provide a place for young children to learn, for students to socialize and study, for job applicants to gather information, for immigrants to learn their adopted country’s language, for seniors to read the newspaper, and for any cardholder to borrow books, music, or videos. The good ones are run by entrepreneurial librarians who understand the needs of the community and actively seek to meet them.[Emphasis added.]

While the examples of innovation and entrepreneurial spirit among librarians are encouraging and inspiring, the real treasure of the article is the authors’

7 Imperatives for Library Leadership

    1. Rethink the operating model
    2. Understand and respond to user needs
    3. Embrace the concept of continuous innovation
    4. Forge a digital identity
    5. Connect with stakeholders in ways that pure internet companies cannot
    6. Expand the metrics
    7. Be courageous

But you’ll have to read the article to know exactly what they are telling us about How to remain a relevant 21st Century Library!

As Abram wrote; “It’s a must read ….”
I wholeheartedly agree!

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21st Century Skills & The Future of Libraries

As I noted in the previous Post, school and academic librarians are making headway toward understanding and implementing changes in library services to retain their relevance (a term we all use to establish what we believe is the essential nature of librarianship) in the education world, based on their recognition of the coming education revolution. Public libraries are lagging behind in meeting the 21st Century challenges because they lack the same impetus – a vision of the 21st Century role and responsibility of the public library.

Apparently, public libraries are not keeping in touch with their profession, because just last fall the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) launched its 21st Century Skills initiatives with a 40 page report titled “Museums, Libraries, and 21st Century Skills” [Citation: Institute of Museum and Library Services (2009). Museums, Libraries, and 21st Century Skills (IMLS-2009- NAI-01). Washington, D.C.], in which the Institute provided this appeal to the library profession.

The relationship between libraries, museums, and their communities is at a critical intersection. There has never been a greater need for libraries and museums to work with other organizations in effectively serving our communities; there has never been a more rapid period of change affecting museums, libraries, and their communities; and there has never been a more challenging period of economic dislocation facing the people in our communities. As a result, there has never been a better opportunity for libraries and museums to act as leaders for positive change and collaboration. Our libraries and museums can and should seize the opportunity to position our institutions in light of these 21st century challenges.

“The Museums, Libraries, and 21st Century Skills project is designed to help library and museum leaders play a catalytic role in this dialogue, if museums and libraries are prepared to take four critical steps.


    • Evaluate how its current mission aligns with the goal of helping the institution and community respond to the challenges of the 21st century;
    • Assess where the institution sits today on the continuum of supporting the development of its audiences’ 21st century skills;
    • Become increasingly embedded in the community in order to create lasting partnerships that address 21st century audience needs; and
    • Design new programs and strategies to help individuals meet the new and more demanding challenges of 21st century life.

The collective leadership of the museum and library community can play a major role in setting and implementing this new strategic direction. It is our hope that the conversations sparked by this report and tool will invigorate meaningful collaborations among cultural institutions and other stakeholders to help every community embrace its 21st century challenges with enthusiasm and confidence.”

The Institute’s website states; “The Institute’s Museums, Libraries, and 21st Century Skills initiative underscores the critical role our nation’s museums and libraries play in helping citizens build such 21st century skills as information, communications and technology literacy, critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, civic literacy, and global awareness.”

Dr. Anne-Imelda M. Radice, Director, Institute of Museum and Library Services, wrote in the IMLS 2010 publication The Future of Museums and Libraries: A Discussion Guide that, “… the delivery of library … services will be impacted by technology, education reform, and societal … changes …”
The challenges facing public libraries does not get much more succinct than that – technology, education reform, and societal changes.

Librarians have routinely faced technology change including everything from physical card catalogs to online digital catalogs, as well as societal changes from a more literate society after WWII to the Internet. BUT, the education reform being discussed and implemented in many areas of the US is a profound change that librarians have NEVER faced, and MUST NOT ignore! As I noted in my Post on March 18 ( 21st Century Library Issues – Revisited “It appears that librarians in the 21st Century have more to be concerned about than just the massiveness of data being generated, or about providing technology based services, or dealing with the diversity of patrons from “Traditionals” to “Digital Natives”. I think we need to be very concerned about the high level of information literacy that will be commonplace in another 10 years among the Digital Native library patrons, and society in general.”

Obviously, academia feels the same. The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL, A Division of the American Library Association) published Futures Thinking for Academic Librarians: Higher Education In 2025 in June 2010. The report addresses “a 15-year horizon [to] help academic and research librarians see beyond the worries of this budget cycle and the short-term future to consider, instead, what may happen further down the road, to better anticipate the changing context within which academic librarians will operate, and to make more informed strategic decisions.” “[I]t is not enough to know the current state; we must also know what will be valued in the future and draw implications so that librarians can begin to take appropriate action now.”

Executive Summary
For academic librarians seeking to demonstrate the value of their libraries to their parent institutions, it is important to understand not only the current climate. We must also know what will be valued in the future so that we can begin to take appropriate action now. [Pg. 3]

Using a scenario-based format to pose a multitude of collective visions regarding what the academic library’s future holds, the following proposed scenarios, with accompanying comments, represents some of the more relevant to this discussion.

Meet the new freshman class
With laptops in their hands since the age of 18-months old, students who are privileged socially and economically are completely fluent in digital media. For many others, the digital divide, parental unemployment, and the disruption of moving about during the foreclosure crisis of their formative years, means they never became tech savvy. “Remedial” computer and information literacy classes are now de rigueur.

“We can aid in bridging that gap – which already exists – by embedding librarians or library science students in the remediation classes, assisting in training these students to be excellent researchers and creators of digital media and participants in digital scholarly conversations.”

“This would possibly mean going back to the times when libraries had the most computers on campus because students didn’t have their own machines. Space considerations would become a concern.” [Pg. 15]

No need to search
Content aware software senses topics as we write and inserts high quality and vetted metadata, citations, and images. Students are media savvy, easily navigating platform to platform to manage visual data and text. They no longer need the skills of acquiring and evaluating information as machines do that work. Instead, they spend time on tasks of synthesis, analysis, and interpretation.

“Boy, I hope not. Not for my own job security, but the implications for redefining critically informed learning are huge! Who (or what) decides what information is relevant, accurate, etc. That skill (IMHO) has always been and should remain a part of what it means to be ‘educated.’”

“We already have the beginnings of such systems such as the recommendation systems found in Amazon and other online retailers. It seems a bit of a stretch to see this happening in more complex academic subjects, but it certainly seems possible since the computer processing power and communications infrastructure already exists. [Pg. 16]

Out of business
As information companies come to dominate the market – providing superior tools and services for students and faculty – the academic library is less visible and less necessary. With only a small user base remaining, colleges and universities outsource many of the remaining functions, as they did with meal service and bookstores earlier. In an era of endless abundance, the curation skills of librarians are still valuable, and they are employed at these companies.

“This is already happening in the corporate arena. If the library does not show value or ROI, they get cut. We need new metrics that show the value of the library vs. outsourcing. Sadly, money, money money.”

“Certain disciplines will really advocate for this not to happen. Some departments may ‘adopt’ librarians and have them join their departments to ensure they do not lose what they value. Disciplines where our particular brand of research skills are not valued probably will not use any outsourced services anyway, so some academic librarian specializations might be lost.” [Pg. 16]

I am still bewildered why Public Library Association (PLA, A Division of the American Library Association) is doing NOTHING related to 21st Century Skills. In fact, I challenge the reader to go to the PLA website and enter a site search for “21st century” and let me know the results. I found one obscure reference to the Spring 2009 Symposium program. PERIOD! There is NOTHING! NADA! ZIP! ZILCH! ZERO! related to 21st Century libraries or librarianship being addressed by PLA.

Point proven? Public libraries are FAR BEHIND in addressing 21st Century Library issues and challenges. Are we going to sit back and let IMLS lead the dialog? Who wants to help the public sector of the profession survive? Who wants to share their successes? Anybody out there from the public library sector? Helloooo?

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21st Century Skills, Libraries and Librarians

As I looked back over the Posts I’ve made since January, it became evident that I approached this whole subject of the 21st Century Library from the perspective that it was a given. From the continued lack of useful information, subject related publications and conversation after seven months, that is so obviously not the situation. It therefore seemed appropriate to begin a series of Posts directly focused on the 21st Century Skills efforts within education, and how it relates to the 21st Century Library, and 21st Century Librarianship.

Why the big focus on 21st Century Skills in education? because, as I mentioned in my second Post on January 26 (21st Century Librarians create 21st Century Libraries), education is taking the lead in preparing the next generation for working and living in the 21st Century. LIBRARIES ARE NOT!

“Traditionally, librarianship has always been about facilitating acquisition of information. But, that presumed that librarians were the experts in the acquisition, evaluation and dissemination of information. When one considers the “Millennial” patron – the “Digital Native” patron – nearly all 60+ million of them have grown up acquiring information digitally (of good, bad or indifferent quality). So, what do they need from libraries or librarians? (Not intended to be a rhetorical question.) Now that the 21st Century Skills movement is taking hold in public education, these Digital Natives will be taught “Information Literacy” (“Accessing information efficiently and effectively, evaluating information critically and competently and using information accurately and creatively for the issue or problem at hand. ….”)”

AND, as I’ve also written, this role of information gatekeeper that was previously the purview of librarianship is eroding away under the flood of Millennial library patrons armed with advancing technology who are becoming their own gate keeper. In my Post on February 17, I cited an example that included

“… a reply to one of Meredith’s [Meredith Farkas’ Blog post on July 17, 2006, titled “Skills for the 21st Century Librarian”] other postings about 21st Century Librarian Skills, “Bill Says: “I have a high school intern right now that has better tech skills than most all the librarians I know. Isn’t that just sad?” ” Well, no it’s not sad, it’s simply a fact and a major distinction between Digital Natives (Millennials) and Digital Immigrants (everybody else). MAJOR DISTINCTION!”

So, for those not familiar with the 21st Century Skills initiatives in US education, this Post should provide some thought provoking information about the only coherent plan to enable schools to help students learn these skills recognized as essential for 21st Century success, not only of the individual, but for our economy – our society.

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21) is a unique public-private organization formed in 2002 to create a successful model of learning for this millennium that incorporates 21st century skills into our education system. The U.S. Department of Education is a key partner with P21, and its members include Apple Computers, Cisco Systems, Microsoft, and National Education Association.

From P21’s publication The Intellectual and Policy Foundations of the 21st Century Skills Framework is the following.

What learning is needed for the 21st century? These three themes – education and society, education and learning science, and education and learning tools – are all converging to form a new educational framework – one built around the acquisition of 21st century knowledge and skills. While today’s schools show the influence of industrial and information age models, the 21st century modern school must appropriately employ both individualized and large scale approaches to assessment. It must bring together rigorous content and real world relevance. It must focus on cognitive skills as well as those in affective and aesthetic domains. It must be attentive to the needs of the individual child and to society as a whole. In order to prepare students for 21st century life, we can build on educational goals that have long been a part of our global heritage. At the same time, we can reinvigorate our schools in light of new opportunities in our world, and new understandings of how people learn. By combining the wisdom of the past with the insights and technologies of today, the 21st Century Skills Framework provides schools with a pathway to ensure the promise of tomorrow.”

In my Post on May 27 (Changes in Our Librarian Education for the 21st Century) I highlighted both the disconnect between teachers and students in our primary education system, as well as a YouTube video (Partnership for 21st Century Skills: Teaching 21st Century Learners) about teacher education changes that are coming. A review of these sources should give librarians some insight into the new generation of library services consumer who will have little or no need of our skills – UNLESS WE DEVELOP 21ST CENTURY LIBRARIAN SKILLS!

Bottom line is that education revolution is coming. Only a few of you may be seeing changes and initiatives at your local level already, but change is coming. EVERYONE recognizes that education reform is necessary to move from the industrial model of education to the information age model. IT MUST CHANGE! If there is a single librarian reading this that does not believe this change WILL impact our roles as librarians (first in the schools and universities and then in the public library sector), please explain your reasoning to me, because I don’t see how it can NOT profoundly and irreversibly change our role as librarians.

Please share your experiences with education reform or 21st Century Skills.

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21st Century Library Skills Need to Support 21st Century Workforce Demands

According to a new survey conducted by the American Management Association (AMA), executives say they need a workforce fully equipped with skills beyond the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic in order to grow their businesses. Skills such as critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity will become even more important to organizations in the future.

“Proficiency in reading, writing, and arithmetic has traditionally been the entry-level threshold to the job market, but the new workplace requires more from its employees. Employees need to think critically, solve problems, innovate, collaborate, and communicate more effectively—and at every level within the organization. According to the AMA 2010 Critical Skills Survey, many executives admit there is room for improvement among their employees in these skills and competencies.

In an effort to assess how “top of mind” these skills and competencies are, AMA—in conjunction with P21, a national organization that advocates for 21st-century readiness for every student—surveyed 2,115 managers and other executives in AMA member and customer companies about the importance of the four Cs to their organization today and in the future.

    The AMA 2010 Critical Skills Survey defined the skills as follows:
    • Critical thinking and problem solving—including the ability to make decisions, solve problems, and take action as appropriate;
    • Effective communication—the ability to synthesize and transmit your ideas both in written and oral formats;
    • Collaboration and team building—the ability to work effectively with others, including those from diverse groups and with opposing points of view;
    • Creativity and innovation—the ability to see what’s NOT there and make something happen.”


“Three out of four (75.7%) executives who responded to the AMA survey said that they believe these skills and competencies will become more important to their organizations in the next three to five years, particularly as the economy improves and organizations look to grow.

When asked why they believe these skills and competencies are taking on critical importance in the business environment, 91% rated the pace of change in business today as the leading cause, followed by global competitiveness (86.5%), the nature of how work is accomplished today (77.5%), and the way organizations are structured (66.3%).”

“According to the AMA survey results, 80% of executives believe that fusing the three Rs and four Cs would ensure that students are better prepared to enter the workforce. Proficiency in reading, writing and arithmetic is not sufficient if workers are unable to think critically, solve problems, collaborate, or communicate effectively.[Emphasis added.]

A democratic society based in free market economy must grow, adapt and change to meet the global competition in order to prosper. Your public, school and academic library should be helping this 21st Century effort to prepare our American workforce to face the challenges ahead.

Schools and academia are addressing the challenges for their students. Is your public library doing its part for its customers?

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21st Century Strategic Plan – Why Develop a Strategic Plan?

The information in the original Post has been included in Chapter 1 – Why Develop a Strategic Plan of my new book – “Crash Course in Strategic Planning

“Technology is changing. Customers are changing. Employees are changing. Communities are changing. Doing things the way we’ve always done them is shortsighted and impractical in the face of drastic 21st Century change. Strategies and processes that worked in the past will not be as effective in the future because both the internal and external environments are dramatically changing. At best, old methods will lead to stagnation, which will leave your library further behind what it should be to survive in the current environment. At worst, maintaining a status quo will lead to your library becoming irrelevant to your community, and eventually to its closure.
A strategic plan requires you to consider the changes in your environment, and to establish and prioritize goals and objectives, which will achieve your mission and vision in the face of these challenges.” [Pg. 1]

“Why is this important?” It is imperative before you begin the process to ensure that you have a consensus among the organization that strategic planning is an important and essential tool for success. Only then will you have the true commitment as opposed to empty agreements. True commitment will be required for participants to provide meaningful contributions to a process that will result in a useful plan with the possibility of effective implementation on all levels.” [Pg. 5]

(Matthews, Stephen. Matthews, Kimberly. (2013). Crash course in strategic planning. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.)

Our book is now available from Libraries Unlimited. Visit their website for more information and your book orders.

Thank you for your interest and support of the 21st Century Library Blog.

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21st Century Library Strategic Plan – Organization

The information in the original Post has been included in Chapter 11 – Organization of the Plan of my new book – “Crash Course in Strategic Planning

“The generally accepted organization of a strategic plan is similar to the template outlined later. Obviously, many plans exclude the word “statement” after mission and vision, and there are certainly other useful words, such as Declaration of Purpose, Supreme Mandate, and so forth that can be substituted to make your strategic plan as unique as your library. Just remember your audience.

Strategic plans come in as many styles and forms as there are libraries. Finding one that works for you is important because your plan is something that you will use and that will benefit your staff and the library from the significant amount of work that went into developing it.” [Pg. 73]

(Matthews, Stephen. Matthews, Kimberly. (2013). Crash course in strategic planning. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.)

Our book is now available from Libraries Unlimited. Visit their website for more information and your book orders.

Thank you for your interest and support of the 21st Century Library Blog.


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21st Century Library Strategic Plan – Measures and Outcomes

The information in the original Post has been included in Chapter 9 – Measures and Outcomes of my new book – “Crash Course in Strategic Planning

“… Measures and outcomes may be at the bottom of the 21st Century Library Strategic Plan Model pyramid for a good reason. Without them your strategic plan would be useless. IF you thought developing a useful strategic plan was difficult so far, the real challenge is in these final elements of the process, measures and outcomes. In practical terms, what do you want your library’s success to look like? How will you know when you have achieved success? Is 100 percent an achievable level of performance, or 50 percent, or 20 percent? Is your Objective to have 1,000 customers participate, or 100?” [Pg. 58]

(Matthews, Stephen. Matthews, Kimberly. (2013). Crash course in strategic planning. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.)

Our book is now available from Libraries Unlimited. Visit their website for more information and your book orders.

Thank you for your interest and support of the 21st Century Library Blog.

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