Scenarios 2025

1. Most books are available digitally

A high majority of patrons now prefer to read books on a device. Most patrons own their own device and are adept at accessing and reading books and other content. With full text searching and millions of books to select from, patrons are often frustrated trying to navigate content and find what they are looking for.

 

option 1: We license

Most major publishers only sell books in ebook format. Libraries are seen as the place to get ebooks. We have one catalog-like database that aggregates our ebook collections. Our staffing has changed as we have little processing or updating duties. Staff still participate in selection but the processing of orders and physical items is lower. Our library spaces have drastically fewer stacks and storage for physical items and have a variety of new uses. Patrons rely on library staff to connect them with ebooks they want to read since there are so many to select from.

 

option 2: We host

Most major publishers only sell books in ebook format. Libraries are seen as the place to get ebooks. Many authors have bypassed publishers and instead self-publish their works directly with libraries. Libraries are responsible to provide access to ebooks including storage of digital copies. Our staffing has changed as we have less time with processing physical items but more time processing digital items. Patrons rely on library staff to connect them with ebooks they want to read since there are so many to select from.

 

Main Points:

  1. Full text is searchable
  2. Storing physical copies is not necessary
  3. Storing digital copy and providing access is necessary
  4. Anyone would have access to any book OR
  5. Access is constrained by licenses/willingness to pay/suppression/censorship/format changes
  6. Access may be constrained by changing formats
  7. Library staff not needed to handle physical items — or digital items
  8. Library’s role in helping people find most relevant content increases

 

 

Impact on libraries: 5

Probability: 4

Speed unfolding: Moderate

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