You say you want a revolution… Well you know, we all want to change the world
Reading about all of the different trends from The Center for the Future of Libraries this week was interesting and also very eye-opening. There were quite a few that I had never thought of before scattered in among the ones I expected. I have decided to make a list comparing what I expected and what I didn’t:
Trends I expected, and often encounter in my job:
- Aging Advances
- Connected Learning
- Data Everywhere
- Digital Natives
- Emerging Adulthood
- Internet of Things
- Maker Movement
- Privacy Shifting
Trends I hadn’t thought of, especially in relation to libraries:
- Collective Impact
- Fast Casual
- Flipped Learning
- Sharing Economy
While I could go on for pages about each of these, I want to highlight a couple from each list.
First of all, Emerging Adulthood. Focusing on teen programming, all I ever hear and read about is how teens are so underrepresented in the library and how we need to find new ways to bring them in and support them. Which I am behind 100%, don’t get me wrong. However, being a member of this group of 20-somethings that are represented by this trend, I am painfully aware of how little there is available to us at the library as well. When New Adult became more widely accepted as a genre, I was thrilled. I LIKE reading about characters my own age; I blew through a lot of these books and was a little disappointed at how few focus on the mid-20s range, that I actually liked, and how most of them tend to be romances. The page dedicated to this trend discusses “the opportunities for services and products marketed to those in between established young adult and adult categories” by combining ideas from both sets of established age groups (Emerging Adulthood, 2015). The 20s are a time for change (I should know, I’m living it!) and many of us are caught in this state of flux, trying to figure out what it is we want to do with our lives. It is also a time for milestones – first full-time job, perhaps first time living alone, first responsibilities like paying rent, health insurance, etc. I know many 20-somethings, myself included, who still have a hard time remembering we’re basically real adults now! Crazy!! So I can definitely see this trend in action on a daily basis. One of my coworkers in adult services is very interested in finding ways to reach this group, and recently began asking me questions about what sorts of things I would like to see offered for myself as a patron in my 20s. It was flattering and extremely exciting for patron-me, because I am always looking for ways to get out and do social activities in the community.
Next, I want to talk about Gamification. I think this is extremely important today, especially with the emphasis on STEM/STEAM. For example, this past summer we had a workshop as a wind-down after summer reading, and one of the presentations came from a couple of people who work for a local foundation that promotes math through games. They brought a bunch of fun games we could play, and then showed us the math behind them. We were given the opportunity to play around for a while, and it was a blast! We barely realized we were doing math, it was so fun! (Though, arguably, math nerd that I am, we could have been doing algebra and I still would have had fun…) We now have a program-to-go box that individual libraries can borrow in order to run a fun yet educational math gaming night. Not only does gaming bring in this side of learning, but it also promotes discovery and also, “libraries as public gathering spaces can capitalize on the benefits of co-play, helping to improve players’ social skills by encouraging play together” (Gamification, 2015). Gaming is a great way to get our patrons to learn, discover, and socialize, all rolled into one.
The last trend I want to focus on is the Sharing Economy. This is a fascinating trend, and while I had never before thought of it in relation to libraries, and was extremely surprised to see it on the list, I realized that it is already something we are a large part of. As this page points out, “libraries have been leaders in demonstrating the value and potential for free/shared resources and spaces” (Sharing Economy, 2015). Not only do we, as professionals, share information, but we share books, audiobooks, DVDs, CDs, magazines, and so much more with our patrons, and it’s all free!! If that’s not a sharing economy, I don’t know what is. While we don’t charge for these services (aside from the occasional late fee), we are providing people with items they otherwise might not be able to afford. Where I work, patrons are guaranteed an hour a day on the computer and 50 free pages of printing each week. AND on top of all of this, we have rentable Nooks. They come pre-loaded with 20 or so titles in a specific genre (romance, mystery, bestsellers, YA, etc. – take a look at this link and see for yourself), and we loan them out like we would a book, yet again allowing patrons access to technology they might not otherwise have access to. We have made our own little corner in the sharing economy market, and I am sure in the future there will be many other services we can consider sharing with our patrons.
While I really enjoyed all of these trends, there was one thing that I felt was severely lacking. Diversity. Diversity is missing!! I don’t know what I would have named this trend, exactly, whether diversity is quite the right term, but there has been a huge shift in the world of books, and in libraries, to include more diverse selections. I’m sure many of us remember the hashtag social media campaign last year, #weneeddiversebooks; it totally blew up the internet for a while. “Books allow children to peek into each other’s worlds, and also to find an affirming reflection of themselves, a curricular concept often referred to as ‘windows and mirrors'” (Seltzer, 2015). This idea often revolves around children and YA titles; the idea of diverse books is to not only let children see themselves within a character that resembles them, but to see that they share similarities with characters that are different from them (Seltzer, 2015). I have occasionally had requests from parents looking for books featuring non-white characters, characters with disabilities, or characters with different family situations, and sometimes I am hard-pressed to find a wide variety of stories that fit their needs.
“Online, WNDB’s social media team says it is fielding continual requests for diverse book recommendations. Transgender kids of color. Korean kids with physical disabilities. South Asian bisexual fantasy heroines. Readers want, as Tharps says, to see people like themselves riding on dragons, solving mysteries, and falling in love. Varian Johnson, the author of The Great Greene Heist, refers to as this as “casual diversity.” “It’s the idea that a person’s ethnicity, sexuality, ability, or disability informs the character, but doesn’t have to drive the novel,” he says” (Seltzer
My point here is that with all of the buzz surrounding We Need Diverse Books (WNDB), I was surprised, and perhaps a little disappointed, that it did not appear somewhere, in some context, as one of the trends. I think it is extremely important to look to the future and see how we can incorporate and promote diversity within the library, whether it is book displays featuring non-traditional characters or programs celebrating our differences. It’s there, somewhere, and we have the responsibility to our patrons to provide them with characters they can relate to and characters they can learn from.
If you have a chance, I highly suggest you read the article We Need Diverse Books by Sarah Seltzer (full citation in my references). It gives more of a background on how WNDB started, what it’s doing now, and trends in the publishing industry related to this topic. I enjoyed it, and found it to be a very informative read.
Center for the Future of Libraries. (2015). Emerging Adulthood. American Library Association. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/transforminglibraries/future/trends/emergingadulthood
Center for the Future of Libraries. (2015). Gamification. American Library Association. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/transforminglibraries/future/trends/gamification
Center for the Future of Libraries. (2015). Sharing Economy. American Library Association. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/transforminglibraries/future/trends/sharingeconomy
Center for the Future of Libraries. (2015). Trends. American Library Association. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/transforminglibraries/future/trends
Seltzer, S. (2015 February 2). We need diverse books: Can children’s authors end publishing industry prejudice – and change the way America reads?. Flavorwire. Retrieved from http://flavorwire.com/502081/we-need-diverse-books-can-childrens-authors-end-publishing-industry-prejudice-and-change-the-way-america-reads/view-all