Scenarios 2025

3. The majority of scholarly information is open

If the drive for open access to knowledge comes to pass, the reason for libraries—especially academic libraries—would fundamentally change. Libraries would no longer need to pay for licensing expensive scholarly content, though they may host or aggregate unique content for a specific academic audience. Instead libraries’ key value is organizing information, and helping users navigate and keep track of content relevant to their interests.


As the Information Age progresses, knowledge is more of a commodity than ever. With so much hidden behind paywalls, libraries are an essential source of free access to content. Libraries have learned to fight the rising costs of licensed content by negotiating skillfully, forming consortia, and bypassing aggregators to license directly from rights-holders and creators. Libraries—individually or in consortia—take control by developing their own databases, forging agreements with publishers and creators to host content on library-owned platforms. Some of the development costs are offset by licensing access to other libraries, but with no profit motive and under library-friendly contracts and fees.


Main Points:

  1. Libraries no longer need to pay for licensing/expensive scholarly content OR
  2. (Academic) libraries host/aggregate unique (or audience-specific) scholarly content
  3. Fewer silos of information
  4. Fundamentally changes why academic libraries exist
  5. Libraries help organize the information
  6. Libraries help people navigate and organize/keep track of the information


Impact on libraries: 4

Probability: 1

Speed unfolding: Slowly

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