Manual for the Future of Librarianship

Inspired by the Long Now Foundation’s Manual for Civilization the Center for the Future of Libraries has launched an experiment to see if we can crowdsource a Manual for the Future of Librarianship. 
Beyond what we learned in library school – a shared base of knowledge for librarianship – what are the other books, articles, reports, essays, videos, recordings, etc., that will help inform the future of our profession? Think of things you have read, seen or heard that inform your practice and that you think others would benefit from. Think inside and outside the library literature. Think bestsellers, obscure finds, and things that hurt your brain. These don’t have to be exclusively futuristic – we’ll also need timeless advice from all disciplines and perspectives.
Provided below are some of the submissions we've received. If you'd like to suggest your own titles for inclusion, feel free to use the submission form


BiblioTech by John Plafrey - “A well-researched, well-written and well-thought out treatise about the future of libraries and how, we as librarians, can understand and easily influence what happens in our libraries and profession.” – Mamie Ney, Auburn Public Library  Common Knowledge? An Ethnography of Wikipedia by Dariusz Jemielniak - "Jemieniak provides insight into the anarchy and knowledge revolution Wikipedia has fostered and the importance of libraries in [its] management." -Kathleen de la Peña McCook, School of Information, University of South Florida

Deschooling Society by Ivan Illich - "Helps librarians think clearly about libraries as radical alternatives to schools. This is essential reading for librarians who think deeply about the seriousness of the educational alternative our institutions represent." - Adam Feldman, Free Library of Philadelphia  Digital Dead End: Fighting for Social Justice in the Information Age by Virginia Eubanks - "Exposing the fraught relationships that people on the 'have-not' side of the digital divide have with technology [and] ways to empower them through 'popular technology' and participatory research." - Brita Zitin, Lincolnwood (IL) Public Library District  

Digital Paper A Manual For Research And Writing With Library And Internet Materials by Andrew Abbott - "Advocates for the continuing use of brick and mortar institutions along with internet access. What we find browsing the shelf we would never have found browsing the net." -Katie DeMeritt, Texas Woman's University  Earth by David Brin - "Published in 1990, this novel correctly predicted the rise of global crowdsourcing, group investigations and issues stemming from leaked information. It also speculated on the effects of a phenomenon just coming into its own -- surveillance tools in the hands of the masses." - Daniel Cornwall, Alaska State Library

Expect More: Demanding Better Libraries for Today's Complex World (2nd Edition) by R. David Lankes - "A practical, succinct and inspiring guide, laced with real-world examples, to help libraries and their communities achieve what we all want: happy, healthy, thriving people." - Abby Straus, Maverick & Boutique, Consultants  Foundations of Futures Studies by Wendell Bell - "One of the most used texts in foresight and futures studies courses...Volume 2 links futures studies to the ethical and moral elements needed to move beyond the latest fads and fashions to reach the norms needed to ground desirable futures." - J. P. DeMeritt, Texas Woman's University  

Hacking the Academy by Daniel J. Cohen & Tom Scheinfeldt - "Digital humanities represents the future of 'the study of the book,' not just for scholars, but for students, readers, and information professionals." -John Martin, University of North Texas  Humble Inquiry by Edgar H. Schein - "A very accessible work from the field of organization development ...provides practical approaches to engendering bold new ideas, avoiding disastrous mistakes, and developing agility and flexibility." -Karen O'Brien, ALA Office for Accreditation  

The Ignorant Schoolmaster by Jacques Rancière - "Helps librarians articulate a vision of their teaching practice...essential for librarians who want to deepen their intellectual understanding of the radical alternative educational model our work represents." - Adam Feldman, Free Library of  Philadelphia  The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution by Walter Isaacson - "Innovation comes from collaboration...[and] relevant sub-themes like the role of serendipity and the persistence of the commons against the ascendancy of private enterprise." - Brita Zitin, Lincolnwood (IL) Public Library District

It's Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens by danah boyd - "A must-read for anyone who disparages millennials or 'kids these days'...unpicks the mindset that kids don't care about privacy and shows how much of online life is 'public by default, private through effort.'"  - Jenny Arch, Robbins Library,  (Arlington, MA)  The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel - "A deeply personal philosophical reflection on the intellectual and creative space that libraries provide. ...Valuable to consider how we can still salvage some of the essential functions and possibilities of libraries as mental and psychological spaces." -John Martin, University of North  Texas  

Library: An Unquiet History by Matthew Battles - "The troubled history of libraries as cultural, social, and political battlegrounds demonstrates the central role that libraries have always played, and likely will always play" -John Martin, University of North  Texas  Little Brother by Cory Doctorow - "A young adult novel that adults can learn a lot from, too....leads readers to consider the relationship between privacy, security, and freedom. The follow-up novel, Homeland, is also worth reading." - Jenny Arch, Robbins Library,  (Arlington, MA)  

Makerspaces in Libraries by Theresa Willingham & Jeroen de Boer - "Helps libraries explore maker culture, develop staff capabilities, evaluate community needs, understand volunteer capacity and collaborative possibilities to ensure long term program sustainability and growth." - Theresa Willingham, Eureka Factory  The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires by Tim Wu - "A historical look at major information empires and a look into the future with current threats to the internet...explores how information delivery has changed and how companies and people in power have reacted to threats and opportunities " - Alvin Dantes, Florida International University

Articles, Toolkits, Reports, and Web Sites

The Collective Impact Forum ( - "As problems become increasingly complex, the solutions require multiple partners to create impact. Public libraries can play an important role as service provider and partner in these community-based solutions. This forum 'is the place for those practicing collective impact to find the tools, resources, and advice they need. It’s a network of individuals coming together to share experience and knowledge to accelerate the effectiveness and adoption of collective impact.'"  Design Thinking For Libraries: A Toolkit for Patron-Centered Design Submission by IDEO - "Helps re-frame difficult problems into actionable tasks. Identify a challenge, interview and observe, come up with solutions, then prototype. In order to transform, libraries need to learn how to build, test, try, and experiment." - Jennifer Stencel, Akron Summit Co. Public Library

Future Libraries: Workshops Summary and Emerging Insights by Arup University - “The result of global workshops conducted by Arup's Global Foresight group…provide[s] a potted reference for thinking through the issues and considerations for Library design and functionality.” - Paula Kelly, Hobsons Bay (Aus.) City Council    Human Centered Design by IDEO - "A wonderful resource to re-frame problems into quick solutions by asking "how might we...?" - Jennifer Stencel, Akron Summit Co. Public Library

Neil Gaiman: Why Our Future Depends on Libraries, Reading, and Daydreaming - "A particularly strong and articulate lecture on the importance of fostering literacy...the positive correlation between fiction and empathy, which has now been shown in a number of studies, and the importance of libraries: 'Libraries really are the gates to the future.'" - Jenny Arch, Robbins Library (Arlington, MA)  The Rise of Innovation Districts: A New Geography of Innovation in America by Bruce Katz and Julie Wagner - "Innovation districts are 'geographic areas (cities) where leading-edge anchor institutions and companies cluster and connect with start-ups, business incubators, and accelerators.' The report failed to mention libraries, leading us to wonder, 'Why are we not on the radar?'" - Jennifer Stencel, Akron Summit Co. Public Library

Stanford Social Innovation Review Collective Impact Articles ( - "This collection of articles from the Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR) gives a solid grounding in the principles and best practices of Collective Impact.  It is a good introduction for library staff interested in learning more about Collective Impact and successful implementations in a variety of communities."