The library in 2020 will be a tale of two academic research libraries: one flourishing in the best of times and one languishing in the worst of times.
In this work of fiction, in 2012, our two research libraries were both situated in tier-one research institutions established over 175 years ago, steeped in tradition yet vying for the attention of students who are increasingly opting for an online, global education over a residential university experience. Both libraries are housed in iconic spaces traditionally defined by the depth and scale of their collections. Deep traditions add weight to the challenges of transforming these libraries to meet the needs of 21st-century researchers and learners. Adding to this challenge are the complexities and elusiveness of achieving transformational change.
The library looked ahead to 2020 and then looked back to 2005. How had teaching changed? How had research changed? How had technology, content, publishing, and social platforms changed? How had academic research libraries changed? Were they keeping pace within the broader environment? Within the university?