Home‎ > ‎

Archived Updates

Update: 6/15/11

The Minnesota Library Futurists met on June 1st and June 2nd at the Maple Grove Public Library. The group scheduled a two day meeting for the purpose of gathering and building upon our ideas from day to day, and to share and finalize ideas for the outcomes process. The primary focus for the two-day meeting was Marketing and Advocacy, though Collaboration was discussed again as well.

The June 1st meeting kicked off with small group discussions regarding recommendations and possible outcomes for each focus area. The outcomes and recommendations were written, gathered, and submitted to team members from each focus area. Members from each of the focus areas met later to discuss these recommendations. This process ensured that all Futurists had a say in the final outcomes and recommendations for each focus area, not just their own. Later, the Futurists benefited from a panel of speakers on the topic of Marketing. Guest speakers included Meg Gerritsen-Knodl (Senior Librarian – Information and Online Services, Hennepin County Library System), Gail Hedstrom (Director, Elbow Lake Library), and David Lee King (Digital Branch and Services Manager, Topeka Public Library).  Key ideas or pieces of advice during the panel discussion included: marketing libraries well before it’s too late, using multimedia as well as traditional forms of communication to reach potential library users, marketing key items of interest that will attract users - don’t just market the traditional library building, market where your community is, and use your personality and be authentic in your writing style to draw people in. 

The June 2nd meeting focused on Advocacy and began with presentations and a Q&A session with Michael Scott (Assistant Director, SELCO and MLA Legislative Chair) and Mark Ranum (Director, Plum Creek Library System). Michael and Mark shared with the group their experiences in advocating for Minnesota libraries. Michael shared the roles and responsibilities that come with the position of MLA Legislative Chair. Both Michael and Mark expressed that you don’t have to be an expert, rather just care, show up, and make an effort; people currently involved in library advocacy want future library advocates to succeed and they will seek out ways to inform and assist you in becoming more involved.

During the remainder of the meeting, the Futurists focused on small group work and outcomes. Throughout the summer, many of the small focus groups will continue to meet (whether face-to-face or virtually) to develop and construct outcomes. The large group plans to reconvene near the end of summer. The Futurists will share results and outcomes with the library community in the fall.

Do you have ideas about the future Minnesota libraries? Please use this survey to connect with us or join the conversation at our blog.

Update: 4/12/11 - PLA Virtual Symposium Recap and Slides

The MNLFI presented a session at the Public Library Association Virtual Spring Symposium on March 30.  We appreciated the invitation to share what we've learned so far.  Ann Walker Smalley, a member of the Steering Committee, started by talking about the formation of the idea for MNLFI, the selection of the Futurists and the early planning process.  Two Futurists, Jenn Straumann and Dillon Young, represented the Futurists' perspective.  They discussed the ups and downs of shaping the process and the outcomes for the project, ways we've taken ownership and the process of organizing our meetings and communications.  Futurists discussed the need for being philosophical and open-ended in the exploration of our Focus Areas given the charge to look out to 2025.  Also highlighted were the importance of meeting together in person and how much we have enjoyed working together.

For more information: 

Steering Committee Slides courtesy of Ann Walker Smalley

Futurist Slides courtesy of Jenn Straumann

Update: 4/1/11 – March Meeting Summary “Education and Information Literacy Focus”

The Minnesota Library Futurists gathered at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota’s Minneapolis campus on Saturday, March 19th to discuss Education and Information Literacy in 2025. Speakers included Doug Johnson (Director of Media and Technology, Mankato Schools) and Tom Eland (Instruction, Reference, Library Liaison for ACES, Philosophy, Women’s Studies and English, MCTC). During the meeting, the Futurists also provided an update the MNLFI Steering Committee.
In preparation for the meeting, the Futurists tasked themselves with reviewing a variety of resources on the topics of education and information literacy -- ranging from blog posts, to formal research papers, and even a few videos were sprinkled into the mix. If you’re interested in the background research done by the Futurists, consider visiting the March topic page.

Taking full advantage of the insight of guest speakers, Doug Johnson and Tom Eland, the Futurists decided to invite not only the MNLFI Steering Committee, but also the larger library community. A solid two hours was devoted to the speakers, with an energetic Q & A session to wrap-up. A big thank you to Doug and Tom for their time, enthusiasm, and the knowledge they imparted.

Doug’s talk focused on three dangers and seven opportunities for libraries of all types. Some focus was given to each of the three dangers and each of the seven opportunities. The overall message was that libraries need to figure out their niche. What do libraries do well? What role can we fill that no one else/nothing else can? Is the answer that the library is the “third place”? How do we make our libraries welcoming, inviting, engaging, and necessary – virtually, as well as physically? Want to know more about Doug? Visit his site, and be sure to check out his Blue Skunk blog.

Tom’s talk focused on the changing role of libraries throughout history. He explained that libraries have never really been the dominant information provider, so with this in mind, and with today’s information overload, it likely isn’t our primary role today either. So, what is? What do libraries do well? How are libraries different? Tom encourages libraries/librarians to think 10 to 12 years in advance. Don’t get stuck in the present. Later in his presentation, Tom shared the process of creating MCTC’s successful credit-bearing information literacy course. Tom encourages advocacy, and to really get involved, so that librarians will be the experts others turn to when looking at information literacy and related topics. This may have been a crucial part of getting information literacy into the curriculum at MCTC. Now, MCTC’s information literacy course is credit-bearing and revenue generating, which is likely valuable in the eyes of the administration. Learn more about MCTC’s information literacy program here.

After the Q & A session with the speakers, the Futurists updated the MNLFI Steering Committee on their continued progress. The update came in the form of an informal presentation, allowing the Futurists to highlight a few key strengths, as well as areas for growth. Strengths include diverse library backgrounds, unique consensus building skills, an organic culture of group leadership, and the tendency to have great fun while discussing the future of libraries. Possible areas for growth include the desire to “think outside of the box” more often, being comfortable with our currently nebulous outcomes, and finding the time to complete this exciting work alongside our other professional duties.

The Futurists and the Steering Committee also had an informal discussion about the Futures process and asked a few questions of each other. Additionally, there was some discussion of the timeline and thoughts about the MNLFI final meeting. The Futurists conveyed to the Steering Committee that (formal) outcomes work would begin in May and continue throughout the summer. The Futurists hope to conclude their work in the fall.

The final portion of the meeting brought the Futurists together in both small and large groups to discuss the main “take-aways” from the speakers, ponder a few “divergent” questions about education/IL, and to talk about the required readings/research for the meeting. Ideas for possible outcomes and other thoughts about education and information literacy were gathered so that the group can continue to discuss online. For more information on Education & Information Literacy in 2025 please visit the topic page and read our blog posts.

Update: 02/19/2011 – January Meeting Summary “Technology Focus”


On Friday January 21st the Minnesota Library Futurists gathered at the St. Paul Academy and Summit School to discuss preparing for the technology demands that libraries will face in 2025. Futurists prepared for the meeting by familiarizing themselves with current readings and research on this topic. These readings are available under the Technology Focus link. The goal of the event was to understand the way trends in technology and user behavior will change library services.


To accomplish this task, participants asked themselves these three questions:


  1. Problems:  What troubles do we face with technology today?
  2. Goals:  What does our ideal user and library look like in 2025 in regards to technology?
  3. Solutions:  What are some ways we can get from the problematic present to the ideal future?


Talking about the technology of 2025 can be difficult, because it is rapidly evolving. Rather than creating a list of “must have” technologies that may, or may not be useful in the distant future, Futurists thought about the way libraries can better adapt to change and use technology as a tool to further their own goals and missions.   


At the meeting Futurists broke into small groups to talk about the readings within the framework of the proposed questions.


General themes that came from those discussions include:
  • Surprising number of users including Boomers and Elderly, are adapting to higher standards of technology use.
  • There are still technology and information literacy problems within every user group.
  • In Minnesota, home computer users are in the majority and growing.
  • Users are mobile, format agnostic and turning to the cloud to serve their computing/information needs.
  • Libraries are responding in kind; but barriers to online content and services are still a major problem.
  • There isn’t enough data/research/metrics available concerning library user needs in regard to technology. So libraries often follow trends vs. meeting needs.
  • Vendors often create more barriers for customers.
  • Librarians don’t have the training they need to meet the needs of technology savvy users.
  • Libraries do not rely on trained web programmers, designers and information architects to build their interfaces. Rather they add on to hierarchically organized, congested and dated sites.
Futurists suggested many solutions to these problems, including ideas to:


  • Create partnerships: Work with external partners to bring their expertise into our institutions.

  • Hiring practices: Get the right person for the right job, if necessary outside the traditional library model.

  • Make demands: Vendor products need to meet our expectations, not the other way around.

  • Do research: get a quantitative, rather than anecdotal, understanding of our users technology needs.

  • Take risks: Be sure to publish both the successes and the failures, contribute to the body of knowledge.

  • Remember your online clients. Show staff how many online users they serve, there are more of them than the ones that come in the building, and they are users too.

  • Let technology do what it is meant to do: make life easier. For instance; cloud based services can save libraries money, off site servers and staff cost less and require less maintenance. Or: Increased online traffic means more users, more users make for measurably more successful libraries.

  • Invest in mobile.

  • Invest in websites that are attractive, functional and connected to users.

  • Increase worker training.

  • Model services after successful private standards. Speed and convenience with reasonable quality.

  • Increase catalog usability and features. IE. Make your catalog easy to navigate for average users, and smarter for higher level researchers.

  • Connect your community though your catalog.

  • Advertise your online services! They can’t be useful if no one knows about them.

After wrapping up discussion, Futurists met with a panel of professionals who work with technology in the information world, from both library and private backgrounds.


We were very thankful for the opportunity to speak with the following participants:

Cody Hanson
Web Architect, UX Analyst
Web Development
University of Minnesota Libraries

Christian Long
Educator and Founder of Be Playful Design
Columbus, OH
(virtual panelist)

Michele McGraw
Information and Online Services
Hennepin County Library

Scott W. Schwister
Program Administrator
Professional Development
School of Education
Hamline University


The panel discussion was framed by the same guiding questions that the futurists used to discuss technology. However, rather than in reference to the day’s reading, these conversations explored the real world conflicts that information professionals face when using technology in libraries and the greater world beyond


As the Minnesota Library Futurists continue to meet, we will develop outcomes to present to the greater library community. As always, we ask that the community to contribute to our discussions. The Technology Focus Team will continue to explore this topic as the year progresses and would welcome any additional

insights from outside our group.


For more information please visit the technology topic page, read our blog, or send us an email with your questions and ideas.



Update: 01/03/2011 - December Meeting Summary

On Friday December 10th the Minnesota Library Futurists gathered in St. Cloud to discuss the general outlook for Minnesota in 2025, with the goal of creating a common framework for the Futurists work in future months.  In preparation for the meeting, individual Futurists looked at articles discussing likely trends in demographics, economics, education, and technology over the next fifteen years in Minnesota and the nation as a whole.  For each of these areas, mini-SWOT analyses were performed using the following questions
  1. What are the implications of what I've just learned for public, academic, school, and special libraries?
  2. What strengths do libraries possess that make them well positioned to meet the challenges presented?
  3. What are areas of weakness in the face of these challenges?
  4. In what directions might the library evolve to meet these challenges?
  5. What threats or competition exist for libraries within this space?


Additionally, Futurists were asked to look at the current political climate and think about ways that politics could affect the library landscape in 2025.  Forecasts of the political landscape are unreliable at best, but ignoring possible impacts of politics could leave us unprepared in the future.

At the meeting, Futurists were randomly divided into four groups and assigned to discuss a single area of interest (demographics, economics, education, or technology) in some depth.  Key ideas were identified for each area and individual answers to the SWOT analysis were combined and refined.  Groups were then paired up (demographics/economics and education/technology) to briefly share thoughts and highlight trends present in both areas.  Futurists then convened as a large group for general discussion.  

From our work in small and large groups the following trends and ideas were identified as having the potential for impact on the future of libraries in Minnesota:
  • The aging of the population is going to play an important role in the services that libraries will be providing in the future. The population is no doubt getting older, but there will be “different shades of gray”, with some of the older population being able to retire at 65 years old or even younger, while a large portion of “boomers” that will need to continue to work into their elder years, and this will require them to continue to increase their skills to stay competitive in the workforce.
  • While the population will continue to age, it will also become increasingly diverse, with a large growth of people of color living in Minnesota by 2025.
  • This “Great Recession” we are currently in will likely lead to a jobless recovery; the new workforce will need to be agile and focused on production.  
  • The changing tax base from the potentially “less friendly” congress and from the aging workforce, who will increasingly use social services and will have a decreasing income will effect libraries funding.
  • The importance to shift the priority services to more stable and consistent funding (example: employees and programs for the immigrant community are often funded by grants and less stable funding sources). At the same, continue to look for more diverse funding.
  • Technology will continue to advance.  Discerning true advances from passing fads will be a challenge.
  • The digital divide is here to stay.  This divide exists - and will continue to exist - in terms of technological “haves” and “have nots” and also in regards to varied skill levels.
While this meeting was not intended to produce actionable outcomes, ideas for how libraries might move forward into the future did begin to present themselves as the day came to a close.  These have been recorded for further examination as we move forward with our work.

For more information about MN in 2025, visit the
topic page and read our blog posts

Update:  12/07/10

The Minnesota Library Futurists hit the ground running after the successful kickoff event with Michael Rogers and Christine Lind Hage on October 18th. The 23 participants have been busy getting to know one another, while also developing a plan for focus areas, upcoming meetings, and other logistics.

The Futurists will meet once a month as a large group to discuss, think, and learn about the following focus areas: collaboration, Minnesota in 2025, technology, marketing and promotion, education and information literacy, and organizational structure/physical and virtual spaces. At the end of the series, the group will revisit collaboration and look at Minnesota Libraries in 2025. The timeline will allow for careful examination of all topics, and will be flexible to construct outcomes.

The meeting held on November 19th, focused on collaboration in libraries. The guest speaker was Chris Olson, MELSA’s Executive Director. Olson shared tips for the collaborative process, and tied them to examples from his own collaborative work. The group would like to thank Olson for his contribution to the day. The remainder of the day was used to develop a plan for going forward. With the help of Facilitator, Donna Rae Scheffert, the Futurists agreed on the aforementioned focus areas, and assigned themselves to work on at least one of the seven focus areas. In addition, several internal workgroups, such as the Communications Committee and the Logistics Committee, have been created.

The group’s last meeting was on December 10th at the St. Cloud Public Library. The focus for the day was Envisioning Minnesota in 2025. Prior to the meeting, participants read and reflected upon documents related to Minnesota’s projected demographics, economy, education, and politics.

The group encourages feedback from the library community and will provide an opportunity for this on our blog. The Futurists would like to thank the Steering Committee and the larger library community for their continued support. The Futurists are thankful for the opportunity to take part in this process, and also are cognizant of the responsibility that comes with it. More updates and information will be available soon.