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Our Futures reading list is growing (Links and Recommended Reading), but as is often the case, reading "Tomorrow Now" has to compete with today’s deadlines. However, what I have read is permeating my thinking. Suddenly a lot of my normal work/newspaper/magazine reading seems related to our futures discussion.
In reviewing Margaret Wheatley's video "Lessons from the New Workplace," I noted her discussion of the importance of looking for information that will surprise us. This seems relevant to identifying trends and uncovering our personal assumptions as part of the futures process. Soon after, the "Idaho Statesman" carried an article entitled "Europe Skeptical of Google Plan: Critics say digital library will crush culture, history" (May 6, 2005 Business section). That information surprised me; my view has been that libraries collect and preserve culture and history and make them accessible to many. Is the view described in the article an anomaly, or is a backlash against digitization a possibility? What other surprising information about our work is out there?
Last week I picked up the May/June 2005 issue of "Sierra Magazine" at lunch and found an interview with Jared Diamond, author of "Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed." In it, he says that a society's core values often spell its ruin. In the interview he explains that "the most difficult values to jettison are those that have helped you in the past. You're inclined to cling to them." He gives the very compelling example of the Greenland Norse; the values that sustained them for 450 years ultimately killed them. We're very aware of the library's core values; can we envision a scenario in which those values will cause the library's demise?
We'll continue to add to the Futures reading list; stay tuned.