The birth of an idea


A perspective by Cathy Wilt, Executive Director of PALINET
As we discussed ideas for a futures conference, it quickly became apparent that if we want to know the future of libraries then we need to look at the future of our world. What will that world look like? How will life as we know it change? How will we communicate? What tools will be available? What needs will our customers have?

We decided to seek out visionaries from all walks of life and bring them together with a small group of colleagues from our field to begin a discussion that will impact libraries well into the next decade. We imagined a morphing of information, inspiration, and imagination that will transform the way we look at our future. With such lofty aspirations, we recognized we also need to build a solid foundation that will serve as a concrete plan with which to move forward.

The result: The Mid-Atlantic Library Futures Conference – a groundbreaking partnership between the NJ, PA, MD, WV, and DE state libraries and PALINET, May 7 and 8, 2007, at the Borgata Hotel in Atlantic City.

An event where speakers will share their vision, small groups will explore ideas through conversations, and EVERYONE will walk away with their plan to navigate through our new possibilities.

I keep saying this is THE conference, because I suspect everything that happens in tomorrow’s libraries will somehow be connected back to an idea, a discussion, or an insight that came about from the combination of people who gather for this. You don’t want to miss this one.

Did you know

According to former Secretary of Education Richard Riley . . .

The top 10 in-demand jobs in 2010 didn’t exist in 2004.

We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist . . .

Using technologies that haven’t been invented . . .

In order to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet.

Did you know …
It’s estimated that a week’s worth of New York Times contains more information than a person was likely to come across in a lifetime in the 18th century.

This video was created by Karl Fisch, a Colorado teacher, to give his fellow faculty members a sense of the world that their students are entering. Karl Fisch credits one of our keynote speakers, Ray Kurzweil, as a source of inspiration for his video.
The issues raised here are exactly the issues we are grappling with in our libraries nationwide. Is it possible to keep up with the incredibly rapid pace of technological innovations? What job skills will we need to be efficient in the future? Will libraries exist in 20 years? Will we remain relevant? Who will our customers be and what kind of information will they need?

We have assembled a stellar list of presenters to help us begin to imagine various future scenarios. We have carefully selected presenters who are willing to engage in a dialogue with the people attending this conference, because we believe that the conversations that take place and the connections that people make with one another at this conference will coalesce into the transformative force that propels libraries into the future.