Syracuse University School of Information Studies Associate Professor R. David Lankes is featured in a video on the future of libraries for the Special Lbrary Association’s (SLA) Future Ready 365 blog.
“What is the future of Libraries?” Lankes asks. “It turns out, that’s a really bad question. First of all, it assumes there is only one future, and secondly, it assumes that future is already set and we just need to discover it, uncover it, deal with it. A much better question would be, ‘what should be the future of libraries.'”
The SLA Future Ready 365 movement focuses on preparing information professions for emerging opportunities in the information industry through collaboration, adaptable skill sets, alignment with the values of the community, and building a community that connects with stakeholders in mutually beneficial relationships. Future Ready is described as an attitude of being more adaptable, flexible, and confident in utilizing the skills of the information and knowledge professional.
Lankes not only questions asking “What is the future of libraries?” but said as he walked across the University campus, “the problem with a predictive future is what if we don’t like it. In addition to coming up with a predictive future, we need an ideal future.”
Lankes recommends having both the predicted and ideal future, but setting an agenda as a series of tasks that will move the libraries closer to the ideal future.
“To be future ready, to be a professional, is to help shape the future, not simply be a victim to it,” Lankes said. “The danger to our profession, what’s going to put us out of business, is not Google, is not Amazon, is not ebooks; it’s a lack of imagination. It’s a lack of our ability to envision what we could be, what we could become. To think about how to make a better tomorrow, that’s the ideal future.”
In addition to his role as associate professor, Lankes is the director of the Information Institute of Syracuse (IIS), a co-founder of the award-winning AskERIC project and founder of Virtual Reference Desk project responsible for building a national network of education expertise. He is a passionate advocate for libraries and their essential role in today’s society, and seeks to understand how information approaches and technologies can be used to transform industries. In this capacity, he has served on advisory boards and study teams in the fields of libraries, telecommunications, education, and transportation, including at the National Academies. Lankes holds a BFA in multimedia designs, an MS in telecommunications and a Ph.D., all from Syracuse University.