The Alliance will be a catalyst for transdisciplinary dialogue and research on evolving issues related to the role of information in our lives. By identifying shared challenges and encouraging innovative solutions, the Alliance seeks to facilitate a future in which information in all its forms can be an effective resource for everyone.

Priorities for the
Future of Information

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FIA receives support from the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation

RT @adruin: Seeing the future through #hackathons! #UMDleads #FIAumd (via @annetrose)

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The Future of Information Alliance @ the University of Maryland

FIA Curator Maggie Saponaro

Librarian for Journalism and Hearing and Speech Sciences
I have been working in academic libraries since the mid 1980's – first as a student, then staff member, then as a librarian, and I have seen first-hand how technology has changed and continues to change how libraries provide service and how users conduct their research.

FIA: Looking Forward at Libraries and Librarianship

Libraries have had a long and venerable history, and are often highly regarded by users. From the first collection of clay tablets to today's mobile devices, technology has played a key role in how libraries and librarians have been able to preserve and provide access to information for users. How users access information is changing, as is the image of library as "space." However, even as libraries look to new technologies and services and reconfigure spaces for current and future users, some things remain constant. As noted by Okerson (2003, pp. 280-281), eight "eternal verities" exist with regard to library collections and services:

  • Content is selectable
  • Content is collectible
  • Content is valuable and libraries retain it for the long-term
  • Collections grow and provisions must be made for storing content
  • Collecting can be the equivalent of long-term preservation
  • Libraries and their collections are meant to endure
  • Libraries exist to meet the information needs of users
  • Information is global, and libraries preserve and provide access to information world-wide.

(Okerson, Ann. 2003. "Asteroids, Moore's Law, and the Star Alliance." Journal of Academic Librarianship 29, no. 5: 280-285.)

These "truths" must be kept in mind as libraries address challenges and opportunities facing them in today's rapidly-changing environment. What are some of these issues? In their work Academic Librarianship (New York: Neal-Schuman, 2010)*, Camila A. Alire and G. Edward Evans surveyed a number of academic library directors who each contributed an essay on what they saw as the future for academic libraries and librarianship as a whole. A number of themes emerged from these essays, the most commonly-cited being:

  • The need for radical change
  • Effective adaptation of technology
  • Increased role of digitization
  • Library as place
  • Addressing financial challenges (p. 329).

For many in the library profession, the above-cited issues are not new, but must be acknowledged and addressed as libraries continue to evolve into the future.

* This title is available at McKeldin Library, call number: Z675 U5 A427 2010.

Curiosity: Michael Keller: The Library in the Digital Age -- Discovery Channel interview of Stanford University’s Michael Keller - the Ida M. Green University Librarian, Director of Academic Information Resources, Publisher of HighWire Press

Why does the World Need Librarians? -- Brief video on one view of why librarians are still needed, submitted in support of a student application for the “Librarianship Into the Future” scholarship at the iSchool at Syracuse University.


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“While some individuals are pessimistic about the future of libraries, many in the community envision future library services that incorporate new philosophies, new technologies, and new spaces to meet the needs of all users more effectively than ever before. These changes go beyond merely incorporating technological advances to include rethinking the very core of what defines a library—the sense of place, of service, and of community that has characterized the modern library for the last century.”

Jennifer C. Hendrix, Introduction to Checking Out The Future: Perspectives from the Library Community on Information Technology and 21st- Century Libraries. Policy Brief No. 2. Chicago: ALA Office for Information Technology Policy, 2010, p. 3.

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