Futures Thinking for Academic Librarians: Scenarios for the Future of the Book


As e-books and the emerging digital library occupy today’s headlines, there appears to be a tacit consensus emerging from the discourse among academics, journalists, and librarians about the future of the book. That vision of the future, as portrayed in the trade literature and popular press, consigns this centuries-old technology to obsolescence, as if it were merely another information format.
This report explores alternative scenarios, where the technology of the printed book does not disappear or become extinct, but occupies a different position in a technological ecology characterized by the proliferation of e-books and digital libraries. The printed book has for centuries been the chief cognitive object of the library. The future status of that object should be of interest to all librarians, especially as they plan for the future; therefore, this report intentionally favors the continued existence of the printed book as a viable technology.