by Debbie Schachter, Western Canada Chapter, Information Technology Division
It is a pleasure to be able to contribute to the Future Ready blog for 2011, particularly as I’ve recently been thinking about the past and the future of special libraries and our association, as part of a panel for SLA Western Canada Chapter’s 25th Anniversary. The conclusions that were drawn by that panel and by the audience were mostly positive about the future, and not unexpected. Beyond the specific technology predictions offered, people generally talked about:
- the need to continue learning new skills;
- the need to develop community engagement processes with our users;
- the need to continue to network and support each other.
I think one of the most important things that we can do to get ready for the future is to build a good personal foundation today; and we do that by developing our change management skills in both personal and professional contexts. It is said that you make your own “luck” through your plans and actions, rather than simply responding to the events that happen to you. If you are prepared, either through continuing education, new skills development, or even just psychologically prepared for the unexpected, you will be better prepared to take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves.
Scenario planning is a great way to do some of the mental exercises required for thinking of the future. Once you have started to look at some alternative realities, it is a heck of a lot easier to begin planning for these than if you are simply reacting to what is happening, as it happens. It is difficult to predict the future but we can plan scenarios based on what has happened before, and what we are seeing today. When I think about the work that I will be doing next year, I expect that much of it will be the same type of work, but there will be the challenges of unexpected changes, and obstacles that will need to be addressed, and skills that I will need to learn.
I also want to say that the power of a movement, such as the Future Ready movement, can accomplish a lot for all of us. I don’t know what I will be doing in five or ten (or two!) years, but I do know that there are lots of smart librarians out there who are also thinking and planning and sharing. One of the areas in which we do excel is in our networking and sharing. The very nature of the Future Ready movement is about bringing the profession into the future together.
Debbie Schachter has held multiple leadership positions in SLA’s Western Canada Chapter.