Shaping the Future: Library 2035 Explores Tomorrow’s Libraries

Library 2035 book cover

San José State University School of Information proudly announces the release of Dr. Sandy Hirsh’s latest book, Library 2035: Imagining the Next Generation of Libraries. Building on the success of Library 2020: Today’s Leading Visionaries Describe Tomorrow’s Library by Joseph Janes, Hirsh’s new book updates, expands upon, and broadens the discussion on the future of libraries and their role in transforming information services to optimally serve their communities, according to Rowman and Littlefield.

Hirsh, a professor and former director of the SJSU School of Information, delves into the lessons learned over the past decade and forecasts library opportunities, strengths, and challenges specific to various types of libraries, including school, academic, community college, and public libraries. Topics, such as increasing book bans, funding decreases, publishing barriers, housing insecurity, waning appreciation for libraries, technology threats and opportunities like AI, economic uncertainty, and political distrust are highlighted.

With 25 chapters and 29 contributing authors, the book ensures a broad range of perspectives and experiences are represented. These authors, including R. David Lankes, Kelvin Watson, Annie Norman, Miguel Figueroa, and Nicole Cooke, were selected based on their impact and leadership in librarianship.

iSchool faculty members and alumni also shape the thought-provoking discussions covering several key themes, including community engagement, inclusivity, collaboration, technology, co-creation, adaptability, advocacy, and future thinking. Director Anthony Chow shares insights from his 23-year library and information science career. Sue Alman, a lecturer with extensive experience in library science, provides practical applications and implications of future trends. Contributions from part-time instructors like Patty Wong and Miguel Figueroa, who shed light on broader societal trends, further enrich the dialogue. The inclusion of iSchool alumni Erin Berman and Chris Brown adds diverse viewpoints, ensuring a holistic examination of the future landscape for libraries.

“Collaborating with multiple faculty members from the San José State University School of Information on Library 2035 was an enriching experience”, said Hirsh. “Each faculty member brought their unique expertise and perspective to the project, resulting in a comprehensive and well-rounded exploration of the future of libraries.”

Each author responded to the prompt: “The library in 2035 [will be/must be/must not be/will not be/can’t be…],” providing unique insights into their vision for the future of libraries. Their insights inspire, provoke, and challenge the thinking about libraries’ evolving role and importance.

The contributing authors advocate embracing new technologies, evolving services, and continuous innovation to ensure relevance and effectiveness. They emphasize supporting diverse cultures, community needs, empathy, equitable resource access, collaboration, data privacy, strategic foresight, and sustainable practices. Libraries are portrayed as social equalizers, promoting social justice, wellness, vital information, and technological literacies. Lastly, libraries must remain adaptive, innovative, and community-focused to effectively meet future generations’ needs.

One of the standout quotes from the book underscores the resilience and adaptability that libraries must embody: “The library of 2035 will surely face its storms, threats, and crises; however, libraries and librarians who commit to innovation, stay ahead of emerging technologies, and strongly advocate their value will stand strong and tall with roots well-grounded as an essential community resource for learning, communicating, playing, and working,” said Hirsh.

To ensure cohesion, the book is divided into six parts, each focusing on different aspects of the future of libraries. These parts cover various themes, from environmental factors to community engagement, equity, and inclusion, as well as the role of library workers and envisioning the future. Each part includes an introduction by Hirsh, providing context for the section’s topic and helping the reader navigate the diverse content. The parts are as follows:

  • Landscape – Environmental factors.
  • Community – Libraries’ foundational role in community building.
  • Equity and Inclusion – Addressing diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging (DEIB), and social justice.
  • Organizations – Various public, academic, community college, and school libraries.
  • Library Workers – Emphasizing the importance of library staff.
  • Vision – Envisioning and preparing for the future of libraries.

The book includes a final chapter authored by Hirsh. In it, she summarizes key trends identified throughout the book by the authors and offers her perspective on the future of libraries and information services. This synthesis helps tie together the various insights shared throughout the book, providing a cohesive overview of the anticipated landscape for libraries in 2035.

Library 2035 is also accompanied by a Library 2035 Webcast Series, in which Hirsh interviews the book’s contributors about their chapters and their vision for the future of libraries. These webcasts are freely available on YouTube and the Library 2035 web page.

Hirsh will discuss Library 2035 at several upcoming events, including the Toronto Public Library Innovation Symposium 2024, the Global AI Leadership Summit, and the RUSA President’s Program at the ALA Annual Conference in San Diego. These engagements provide further opportunities to explore the book’s themes and insights.

Rowman and Littlefield recommends the book to library leaders, and library and information science students and faculty. For more information about Library 2035 and Hirsh’s vision for the future of libraries, visit the publisher’s website.