February 17, 2018

Stacey Aldrich | Movers & Shakers 2003

Planning for Alternate Futures


Stacey Aldrich has been a librarian since 1992, and a “futuring junkie,” she says, since she attended the World Future Society (WFS) General Assembly in 1996.

In the intervening years she familiarized herself with the new Internet technologies through her own hands-on approach, not formal training. “I didn’t prep. I just took the plunge. I volunteered to teach other people because the best way to learn something is to teach it.” When she saw a demonstration of Mosaic at the National Institutes of Health, she downloaded the software and started showing it to librarians and faculty and asking how best to use the budding World Wide Web for teaching and learning.

By 1996 she already had been doing her share to make the future happen in Maryland. Aldrich developed Hood College Library’s gopher and web sites and created and filled in the menu structure for Maryland’s pioneering statewide network, known as Sailor.

Now, as a public library consultant for the central state library agency for the state of Maryland, she employs all her technological and futuring skills. The projects she is responsible for include creating a technology demonstration center, working on the planned statewide virtual reference service (ASKUSNOW!), identifying trends and technologies that will impact libraries, presenting workshops for librarians on futuring and scenario building, and “thinking outside the box” – yes, that’s in her job description.

In her nonlibrary life, Aldrich will be teaching a course on scenario building at this summer’s WFS conference. Futurists examine trends, technologies, and demographics to build scenarios for each possible future and develop strategies for dealing with them.

Helping librarians to master current technologies is part of Aldrich’s job, but it’s also a mission. “We need to be the experts,” she says, and librarians who are behind the curve make the whole profession look bad. For instance, many library users routinely get information by cell phone. How many librarians have realized that and adapted their online services to WAP (Wireless Applications Protocol) format, she wonders.

It’s time for librarians to stop chasing after the future, she says. “Grab it, and make it happen.”




Current Position: Public Library Consultant, Division of Library Development and Services, Maryland State Department of Education

Degree: MLS, University of Pittsburgh, 1992

Upcoming Presentation: “How To Build and Use Scenarios,” World Future Society, Summer 2003