For 2011, as one of my helpful commenters pointed out, my predictions weren’t very daring. Despite the gloomy rhetoric coming from the library community about library closings, I was pretty sure most libraries wouldn’t be closing. I was right.
For 2012, I’m less sure. This might be the year when public libraries are forced to change their mission drastically as the “information” they trade in shifts away from physical formats entirely. So let’s try for a few predictions that might be slightly less predictable. Here’s a sampling of what we’ll see in 2012:
1) The Big Six publishers will move away from printed books to a significant extent and offer almost everything they publish only as an ebook.
2) The Big Six publishers will keep up their hostility to public libraries, and those that currently supply ebooks to libraries will stop altogether, a move they would have made with printed books decades ago if only they could have controlled the distribution model.
3) Libraries will thus have to rely upon their historic print collections and works from small publishers to supply books to their patrons.
4) The CD and DVD will dwindle significantly in popularity.
5) As a result, recording companies and movie studios will begin releasing most of their titles through digital streaming only.
6) Movie companies will finally pull their heads from their collective bottoms and realize that if they sell digital movies without DRM – the way Amazon and iTunes now sell music – people will actually buy them rather than just pirate them from the Internet. The digital movie business booms!
7) To protect this booming but tenuous business, movie companies, along with music companies, will restrict libraries from accessing most digital music and movies.
8) Libraries will thus have to rely upon their steadily deteriorating collections of CDs and DVDs to provide their patrons with A/V “information” now that they can’t buy new CDs and DVDs or rent access to streaming audio and video.
9) The long decline of public libraries as providers of books, music, and movies to their patrons will increase in 2012, because patrons abandon libraries since they can’t get any new books, movies, or music. The only people left will be the people who can’t afford Internet at home, homeless people, and the library staff.
10) Most people won’t notice because they’ll be too busy renting ebooks from Amazon, streaming music from Spotify et al., and streaming videos from Netflix et al. That and the world will be ending like those Mayans supposedly predicted.
And there you have it, my predictions for libraries in 2012. A brave new year for a brave new world.
Happy New Year!