Toward a Library Renaissance
For centuries, librarians have tried to safeguard information, sometimes in the face of destruction. Think of the great Library of Alexandria, the burning of which symbolizes the irretrievable loss of knowledge. Think also of Umberto Eco's novel, The Name of the Rose, and the (fictitious) 14th-century story about the search for a "lost" volume of Aristotle that no one is allowed to read—but yet must be preserved—because it might reveal that Jesus could and did laugh, contrary to the death-obsessed zeitgeist of the time. Fast-forward to the age of the internet, when some fear libraries are again being destroyed and many ask: "Who wants libraries when you have Google?" This is not an easy question to address but one need not yield to pessimism. This paper argues that identifiable trends direct to a promising future: in light of these, one should be able to circumscribe plausible scenarios. Approaches to strategic planning that count on ownership should make a big difference and point to desirable skills for librarians. If they also invest in resilience and give unequivocal attention to branding, libraries can enjoy a renaissance.
libraries; librarians; strategic planning; ownership; branding
Required Publisher Statement: This article was first published by the Asian Development Bank (www.adb.org).