Future of Libraries

I have always found libraries to be places where I felt at home, and even at my youngest ages I remember thinking of the library as a place that gave me tools to be a better person. My first volunteer activities were in libraries, and I’ve been lucky to find my way back to the field as an adult. I think of my work as a type of advocacy for libraries. If I can make my library better, then I am doing my part to help it be stronger for the future. Any time I can speak to another audience about libraries, I take advantage of the opportunity to share what we offer our communities.

My Work

While in a paraprofessional position at Wake Forest University, working on earning my MLIS, I recognized a need for instructional design on campus. I was able to recommend a position within the library and then fill the first designated instructional design position on campus. As the Instructional Design Librarian I offered workshops both to the library and the larger campus, consulted with faculty who were interested in instructional technology and the design of their courses, and collaborated with faculty on a diverse selection of instructional projects. I was able to suggest Instructional Design be a priority in a strategic planning committee, and since then the university has added an instructional developer/designer position and incorporated instructional design principles into teaching grants.

In my position I also developed the university’s first undergraduate online course. The library decided to pilot an online version of our popular information literacy course, and I was able to develop an online version and offer it within one semester. I designed the course to fit with Wake Forest University’s approach to teaching and learning and to maintain close relationships with the students in the course. We received excellent feedback from students and have been able to play a critical role in the discussion of online education as it goes forward. I gave the following presentation to our College Board of Visitors:

Since beginning work at Virginia Tech University Libraries I have been an active participant in the planning for the organization. I was hired to “operationalize the vision for the Learning and Outreach unit” as the Associate Director for Learning and Outreach, and in that role have participated in projects such as partnering with the Associate Dean for Learning and Outreach to craft the mission, vision, and aspirational identity for the University Libraries.

After almost a year and a half the University Libraries were restructured, and I was promoted to be the Director for Learning Environments. In this role I am responsible for situated learning, whether in the building or online. Learning Environments is comprised of Reference, Circulation, Roving Services, Learning Spaces, Online Learning, and programming–both academic programming and community engagement. I am actively working with my team to ensure everyone in the unit is a participant in the University’s learning mission and to maintain consistency of experience and service across units.

For more information on the Learning Environments program, please see the following presentation:

Professional Involvement

I have been fortunate to be elected to the American Library Association Council and the LITA Board of Directors.

ALA Council is the governing body and determines all policies of the Association. If you are interested in shaping the major initiatives of ALA, or in influencing the public face and messages of the field, this body is a good place to spend energy. With an interest in the future of the field and advocacy, I have really enjoyed my work with Council.

LITA is the technology wing within ALA, and those interested in technology in libraries, and how libraries adapt to technologies, can find a good home within this group. For example, LITA’s biggest program at conferences, Top Tech Trends and The Ultimate Debate, both deal with trends and challenges we should all consider in our own libraries. I have a specific interest in new information technologies and how they change the larger information environment in which libraries are a part, and find my work with LITA both helps me stay current with trends but also connects me with others with similar interests.

Suggesting New Paths to the Field

I have given a number of presentations and sometimes written (in places beyond this blog!) about things librarians and the library community could consider as future paths in the field. Here are some of those pieces:

  • Pressley, L. and K. Gilbertson (2011) Librarians as Experts: Using the Web to Assert Our Value,” Computers in Libraries. 31:4.
  • “Change and Opportunities for Today’s Academic Libraries.” Academic Libraries: Constant Change, Constant Opportunity.  Academic Library Association of Ohio Annual Conference. Toledo, Ohio. November 3, 2011. Invited Pre-Conference Keynote.
  • “The Changing Library: Who We Were is Who We Are.” Cora Paul Bomar Lecture on Librarianship. Spring UNCG Library and Information Studies Alumni Luncheon. April 16, 2011. Invited.
  • “Change is What Keeps It Interesting.” Staying Vital in a Time of Change. LAUNC-CH Annual Conference. Chapel Hill, NC. March 7, 2011.
  • “Finding Our Students at Their Point of Need: As Further Education Changes, So Too Does the Point of Need.” Online Update for Learning Resource Center Staff in the Southwest of England. Regional Support Centre South West. Online. December 1, 2010. Invited presentation.
  • “Re-visioning Teaching: Adapting to a Changing Educational Environment.” Innovation by Design: Re-visioning the Library. ACRL/NY Symposium. New York, New York. December 10, 2010. Invited speaker.

  • “Finding Our Students at Their Point of Need: As Higher Education Changes, So Too Does the Point of Need.” Library Instruction at the Point of Need. NCLA College and University/Community College and Junior College Libraries Section. Thomasville, NC. October 29, 2010.Invited keynote.

  • “Adapting to a Changing World: Exceptional Services for a New Information Environment.” South Carolina Library Association. Columbia, SC. October 29, 2009. Invited speaker.
  • “Social Software & the Future of the Library.” With Erik Mitchell. SOLINET Annual Membership Meeting. Atlanta, GA. May 10, 2007.

Outreach Beyond the Library

I particularly enjoy speaking with audiences outside of libraries about what libraries can offer them. Here is a selection of those presentations:

  • “This Library is Not a Place.” With Deborah Howes and Tim Songer. Achieving Impact Online. Reynolda House Museum of American Art, National Advisory Council. Winston-Salem, NC. April 12, 2012. Invited panelist.

  • “Help Is On The Way.” Thursdays at Starling. Wake Forest University. Winston-Salem, NC. February 3, 2011.  Invited speaker.

Updated September 29, 2014

2 thoughts on “Future of Libraries

  1. Hi Lauren,
    I believe that technology plays a huge role in society nowadays especially with the world of information. As a Library Associate at my own local community college I’m pursuing a MSIDT degree that will help me to learn more about instructional design and technology. Reading through the given slideshare presentations it helps me to get ideas on how to develop online library services and courses. Currently, I’m working on developing and creating a first ever college library website. This website will provide opportunities for the library patrons such as online library services and resources available for the library patrons twenty four seven. I hope that I will see this more technological improvements and services available for our library patrons.

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