WLA 2008: Roadmap to the Future of Wisconsin Libraries

Posted by Lisa Strand on Friday, November 07, 2008 in WLA Blog Archive
On May 5-6, 2008 over 100 key library leaders and advocates from across the state came together to discuss the future of Wisconsin Libraries. From that visioning summit came the COLAND Beginnings Report on the Future of Wisconsin Libraries, 2008-2018. This session, presented by Kathy Pletcher (Associate Provost for Information Services at UW-Green Bay) and Rick Grobschmidt (Assistant State Superintendent, Division for Libraries, Technology, and Community Learning, Department of Public Instruction), reviewed the outcomes from that summit and gave those in attendance an chance to react to the vision, values, strategic directions, and tactics for the Future of Wisconsin Libraries.

I encourage those who haven't read the Beginnings Report to do so because there is so much more detail in that report than I could provide this is blog report on the session. I will provide you with the basics and some of the reactions in the session.

Vision for the Future of Wisconsin Libraries
Wisconsin libraries sustain educational development and economic prosperity by:
  • offering rich opportunities for individual development
  • teaching literacies to succeed in today's knowledge-based economy
  • serving as the "anchor store" for community development
  • preserving our cultural heritage
Values for the Future of Wisconsin Libraries - Wisconsin citizens value:
  • Access to educational, informational, health, economic and workforce development resources that strengthen families and communities as well as the "bottom line";
  • 21st century literacies and lifelong learning across all populations, cultural groups and economic strata;
  • Libraries of all types as information and problem solving centers of every community;
  • Universal and free access to information to help close the digital divide;
  • Librarians who are passionate and engaged deeply with their communities;
  • Partnerships in sharing resources and information across communities;
  • Librarians who are politically aware and involved - in touch with stakeholders and constituents, advocating to policy makers.
Strategic Directions for the Future of Wisconsin Libraries
  • One card - any library
  • Robust Bandwidth
  • Libraries as "anchor store"
  • Universal literacies in all forms
  • Embedded librarians
Tactics for the Future of Wisconsin Libraries
  • Collaborations
  • Strategic communication
  • Funding
  • Professional Development
Reactions to all of this by audience was favorable. Much of the conversation revolved around the strategic directions. One person noted that fun had been left, that libraries are also the place that people turn to for entertainment. Another noted that it was also a place for culture and specifically a place where one can experience culture such as an art exhibit or poetry reading.

The One Card - any library direction was favorable received though there was a concern about smaller libraries not losing their identity if there was just one card design. There where a few other issues about implementation of this, but we were reminded that this is what we want to achieve in the future, that it is something to work towards, and it is understood that it won't happen over night. One participant likened it to having a Visa card for different banks, but accepted and processed worldwide.

The strategic direction regarding libraries as anchor stores was also talked about in some length, with one participant suggesting that it should be "the library is the heart of the community." Someone else suggested that anchor store can also mean that the library is a place where information is housed and not necessarily about selling things.

It was nice to see so many people, from different libraries and years of experience, giving their input and reaction. As one person noted she was renewed knowing so many cared about the future. Again, I encourage you to read the full report for yourself and to share any comments you may have on the COLAND Visioning Summit blog at http://blog.uwgb.edu/coland.
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