America's Libraries for the 21st Century

Starting in 2009, ALA's Program on America's Libraries for the 21st Century (AL21C) focused on monitoring and evaluating trends in technology and society to assist the library community. AL21C was sunset in 2014.

Major Areas of Focus

The AL21C Program had six major areas of focus:

  • Monitor technological and societal trends that are relevant to libraries and public access to information, and encourage and contribute to the discussion of these trends in forums inside and outside of ALA.
  • Identify relevant data sources for these trends, and strive to improve the usefulness and visibility of these data.
  • Advocate for appropriate policies and practices based on those trends that have identifiable, direct implications for the library and information science community.
  • Identify scenarios, models, and specific directions in technology and society that hold the most promise for advancing the interests of the library and information science community.
  • Engage the library and information science community in the development of appropriate visions, strategies, positions, and messages.
  • Assist the library and information science community in taking a greater leadership role in shaping its future in the digital world.

The work of the program was conducted by a number of individuals with knowledge of academic, school, public, and other kinds of libraries, as well as expertise in an array of disciplines and professions beyond the library community. ALA members participated through the AL21C Subcommittee. In addition to the core team, the program consulted with subject matter experts and experienced practitioners from the various ALA units; the library community at large; and entities outside of the library community in academia, industry, government, and the nonprofit sector. The program's work was funded by ALA and private foundations.

The AL21C Subcommittee solicited nominations for best library practices using cutting-edge technology. These nominations, showcasing libraries serving their communities with novel and innovative methods, are listed below.