For immediate release | June 22, 2010

Explore the future with ACRL

CHICAGO – The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) has released a new report, “Futures Thinking for Academic Librarians: Higher Education in 2025,” to prompt academic librarians to consider what trends may impact the future of higher education in order to take strategic action now. The report is available on the ACRL Web site at

Authored by David J. Staley, director of the Harvey Goldberg Center for Excellence in Teaching in the History Department of Ohio State University, and Kara J. Malenfant, ACRL scholarly communications and government relations specialist, the report presents 26 possible scenarios for the future which may have an impact on all types of academic libraries over the next 15 years. The scenarios are based on implications assessment of current trends and reflect a variety of potential futures for higher education.

“We felt it was important to focus on the long term future out as a way for academic librarians to open their minds and free their thinking,” said ACRL President Lori A. Goetsch of Kansas State University. “The possible futures outlined in the report provide an excellent opportunity to imagine what our world may look like in the next decade and apply that imagination to the current strategic planning process.”

The scenarios represent a variety of themes relating to academic culture, demographics, distance education, funding, globalization, infrastructure/facilities, libraries, political climate, publishing industry, societal values, students/learning and technology. They are organized in a “scenario space” visualization tool, reflecting the expert judgment of ACRL members as to their expectations and perceptions about the probability, impact, speed of change and threat/opportunity potential of each scenario. The study focuses on implications of these futures for academic libraries and includes a step-by-step activity for academic librarians to undertake scenario thinking in their libraries.

For more information on the report and futures research, listen to a podcast conversation with the authors on the ACRL Insider blog.


ACRL is a division of the American Library Association, representing more than 12,000 academic and research librarians and interested individuals. ACRL is the only individual membership organization in North America that develops programs, products and services to meet the unique needs of academic and research librarians. Its initiatives enable the higher education community to understand the role that academic libraries play in the teaching, learning and research environments. ACRL is on the Web at, Facebook at and Twitter at @ala_acrl.


David Free