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Symposium: Libraries 2020

Fairmont Royal York Hotel,
Toronto    24 September, 2009  

Getting Ready: Our Speakers’ Suggested Readings


The Symposium on September 24 is intended to be the central event in a province-wide conversation that begins in August and continues after the event.  To begin, we’ve asked each of our major speakers to suggest resources that they think you’ll find helpful to read in advance.  They came back with an eclectic and thought-provoking menu of readings.  We’ve also invited ten energetic new-generation librarians from across

Ontario to share their thoughts on the Symposium blog.  All members of the Ontario public library community are invited to share their thoughts on the blog as well.  Please participate in the conversation in your choice of English or French!


Suggested readings:

Richard Worzel, Futurist – Ontario in 2020


1. Libraries in Ontario (and most of the western world) are publicly funded. But what will public finances be like in future? One stab at this question was provided by economist Pierre Fortin in a study commissioned by the CBC, Toronto Star, and the Dominion Institute of Canada:


2. Now, looking at Ontario specifically, I want to cherry-pick two sets of thoughts from the 2005 Government of Ontario report, “Toward 2025:  Assessing Ontario's  Long-Term Outlook” and suggest a couple of questions, starting with the key assumptions contained in the report:



Given the economic outlook today, and considering how it has changed since this report was released in 2005, do you think these assumptions are still correct? If they should be changed, will they be more optimistic, or more pessimistic from now until 2025?


Next, let’s consider spending on health care. Here are the same study’s projections on Ontario’s spending on health care as a percentage of total program spending, i.e., excluding debt service requirements:



What does this imply for government spending in other areas? How will that affect libraries?



3. Peter Drucker once said that organizations (for-profit, as well as non-profit) that build their efforts based on marketing can pick up market share easily and almost without opposition (I’m paraphrasing).


4. Then there are wild cards. A wild card is a low probability event, which, if it occurs, has dramatic consequences. The bankruptcy of the U.S. federal government would be such a wild card. Here’s my own comment about that possibility:



5. And finally, three questions: First, what are the most positive developments that will affect libraries over the next decade? What would be an ideal future for your library system by 2020? And finally, what would it take to move your library system into that ideal future?



Steve Davies, Vice-President, Project for Public Spaces – Physical Spaces



Resources on placemaking published by the Project for Public Spaces.





The PPS’ April 2007 newsletter on libraries:

"Heart of the Community: Libraries we Love" by Karen Christensen and
David Levinson (Berkshire Publishing, 2007).  See summary information at:  

”Civic buildings and their public spaces can improve the quality of life in cities”, by Cynthia Nikitin, Project for Public Spaces.  (Recreation and Parks BC Magazine., Spring 2009):


Addition:  Anne Bailey’s paper at IFLA 2008



Joan Frye Williams and George Needham – Digital Spaces



Ten provocative statements from the Taiga Forum

JISC: Libraries of the Future video

 Making Cities Stronger: Public Library Contributions to Local Economic Development

Small and Rural Libraries Resources, compiled by the Wisconsin Dept. of Public Instruction

"Future Agenda for Rural Libraries in the US"

Helene Blowers' blog, "Library Bytes"

Lorcan Dempsey's blog