Predictions of the Library’s Future

I’m working on another library history project and having fun reading through some old library literature. Here’s a good example of librarians trying to predict the future, from a 1933 Jesse Shera article in the Library Quarterly, “Recent Social Trends and Future Library Policy.”

With the older people constituting an increasingly larger percentage of our population, the demand for leisure-time activities and the services of the librarian should increase, while the children’s librarians, relieved of the burden of ever increasing numbers to serve, can shift their attentions from quantity to quality. Further, the curtailing of immigration will not only be reflected in our rapidly falling birth-rate, but our population will more and more become racially homogeneous,* so that library work with the foreign born will become decreasingly important.

*T. J. Woofter, “The Status of racial and ethnic groups,” Social trends, I, 553-60I.

He sure got that one wrong.

2 thoughts on “Predictions of the Library’s Future

  1. What’s interesting too is that it suggests “library work with the foreign born” was a major task for libraries. Fascinating.Also a good reminder that futures are subject to change.

  2. I’m assuming based on the time period that the social trend Shera was responding to was the much stricter immigration laws being passed, so there would be many fewer immigrants. The 19c library literature talks about Americanizing immigrants and such, so maybe that was an issue into the 20c. Shera actually got a lot right, but he couldn’t have predicted WWII and the baby boom, much less the relaxation of immigration standards a generation later.

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