I worry about the future of libraries. I have been a library professional only since 2004, and even then most people who planned to work in a library understood that things were changing. We knew we had to find new, creative ways for libraries to operate and serve communities, or libraries would slowly start dying.
I’m director of Curtis Memorial Library in Brunswick, Maine. As the result of being a worrywart and wanting to make sure that the library makes a successful transition to a technology-driven, digitally dominated future, I spend a great deal of time identifying and evaluating new library programs, processes, and management methods. After years of struggling to find new ideas to drive substantial change, I decided to cast a much wider net. But how do you find and develop such ideas? The first place to look was not at other libraries but other professions.
When I started as a librarian, I looked to business (which was my first career) for ideas that could transfer from one environment to the other. Businesses spend huge sums of money and employ highly intelligent people to run them. Libraries can benefit from their expertise simply by seeking out friendly people in the business world who are willing to share ideas on everything from management styles to alternative programming.