Skip to main content

The Library of the Future: Inside & Out

Virtual Conference

About the Virtual Conference

As libraries re-evaluate and redesign the services offered to their communities, the ripples of change can be felt across the institution. New job titles and functions appear in university employment postings—clinical information specialist, data scientist, assessment librarian. Space previously given over to stacks is reallocated. Information resources and tools reshape the library’s budget. Whether the process is visible or invisible to the library patron, the functions of the library are being re-engineered at a core level. What are the implications for library directors? And for content and platform providers?

Confirmed Speakers (in alphabetical order) Include:

  • Gail Clement, Head of Research Services, California Institute of Technology
  • Nancy Davenport, University Librarian, American University
  • Karen Diaz, Dean of Libraries, West Virginia University
  • Carl GrantInterim Dean of Libraries, University of Oklahoma
  • Jacob Nadal, Director of Digital Preservation, Library of Congress
  • Danuta Nitecki, Dean of Libraries, Drexel University
  • Matthew Sheehy, University Librarian, Brandeis University
  • Steven Smith, Dean of Libraries, University of Tennessee Knoxville

Event Sessions

11:00am – 11:10a.m. Welcome and Introduction


11:10 - 11:45 a.m. Opening Keynote: Hedging our bets on the library of the future: planning inside and out


Questions about the future of libraries emerge periodically whenever disruptive changes surface.  Forces we all monitor around technologies, regulations, demographics, dissemination of scholarship, economics, information search habits, teaching strategies, and research practices trigger such questions within higher education.  Championing the purpose of an academic library while addressing such forces engage library directors. 

This NISO conference invites us to share some approaches to framing strategies to engage---whether we worry about challenges or leverage opportunities to shape the library of the future.  We each are responsible to both our staff and stakeholders, and strive for effective leadership for change.   To ensure a relevant library of the future, regardless of the success of our predictions of the impact of these forces, we hedge our bets by planning both inside and out.   This keynote presentation will highlight the forces other conference speakers will address in-depth as considerations for redefining the library, and share a few strategic bets for transforming one mid-sized university library. 

11:45 am - 12:15 p.m. Beyond Place and Format: Library Experiences Across Physical and Digital Services


Jacob Nadal

Director of Digital Preservation
Library of Congress

This talk frames digital and physical spaces and collections as complementary and essential aspects of library services. Effectively deploying these capabilities requires an understanding of the affordances that are unique to digital and physical collections and spaces, and the ways that each type of collection object or environment interacts with and reinforces the others to serve user needs. Examples will be drawn from recent research projects at the Library that use individual collection objects in multiple ways and formats: as graphic objects, texts, artifacts, or samples for scientific analysis in their physical form and, in their digital forms, as access tools, research datasets, and materials for re-use in other creative projects. These examples are used to draw out lessons about how libraries can become more effective by integrating the capabilities of digital and physical collections, both on- and off-site, as services that support user needs.  

12:15 - 12:45 p.m. New Job Titles, Position Requirements, and Degrees: Challenges and Change in the Academic Library and its Workforce


Steven Smith

Dean of Libraries
University of Tennessee - Knoxville

Academic institutions are facing big challenges, some new and some not, and these challenges reverberate throughout the entire organization, including the library.  The library, which is tasked with serving the entire institution and the community associated with it, probably feels these challenges more than most other campus entities, precisely because of its cross-campus focus. New emphases, if not priorities, at the local, state, regional, and national levels have emerged, and libraries have attempted to adapt with new positions and roles for its workforce. This session will describe new positions and roles in the library and the change that has created them, using changes at the University of Tennessee as a case study.  The state of Tennessee has launched some of the most progressive higher education policy and programs over the last decade, and the University as well as its library have adapted to support these changes and the strategic priorities that have followed from them.     


12:45 - 1:45 p.m. Lunch Break

1:45 - 2:15 p.m. A measured approach to supporting research productivity


University researchers see an ever-increasing level of demands and expectations of their productivity at a time when funding has shrunken, competition has increased, and responsibilities for research compliance and reporting grow more complex and time-consuming with each mandate. This presentation will outline major areas of Library services and resources that increase efficiency, leverage existing workflows, and remove churn for researchers to achieve more with less pain. The presenter will also share the prioritization process for adding new researcher-focused services to the Library's menu, being careful to note what has been given up in shifting to a 'researcher productivity' mindset.  

2:15 - 2:45 p.m. The Library: Hiding in the Open


Over the past few years we have surveyed, studied, and talked to students – about the Library. What do they want from the Library?  How do they use it now?  How do they want to use it?   What do they want in addition to research materials?   Much of what was requested was easy to supply – we already had most and had just not made it visible to them.  Some were not as easy:  more windows and gender neutral restrooms.   This talk with focus on spaces, stuff, and ……restrooms. 

2:45 - 3:15 p.m. The Library’s Role in Attracting, Supporting and Retaining the International Student


The library has always been the physical center of academic support on campus and is increasingly becoming a community center as well.  The Brandeis Library has embraced this role and actively looks for ways to welcome international students.  The library reviewed its services and with minimal investment has extended its offerings to this important community.

3:15 - 3:30 p.m. Afternoon Break

3:30 - 4:00 p.m. Strategic Thinking & Planning for the Library of the Future: the Case for Building a Learning Organization


Karen Diaz

Dean of Libraries
West Virginia University

How do we plan for a future that does not yet exist, in an environment filled with unpredictability, unsure resources, and constantly changing skill-set needs? By building organizations that are able to think and act in integrated ways at all levels. Integrated thinking in large organizations comprised of various specialties is challenging but not impossible. The work of Peter Senge in The Fifth Discipline: the Art and Practice of the Learning Organization (1991), as well as others who have followed him, provide roadmaps.  This presentation will make the case that strategic thinking and planning must be done by everyone in the organization, will highlight some of the characteristics of a learning organization, and detail some of the strategies we are using at WVU Libraries to become a learning organization.

4:00 - 4:30 p.m. Thoughts on the need for continuous learning and reskilling in librarianship


Carl Grant

Chief Technology Officer and Associate University Librarian for Knowledge Services
University of Oklahoma

The pace of technological change began rapidly accelerating in the early 2000’s and hasn’t slowed down since.  Many libraries have dealt with this by transitioning into information-based collaboration hubs in their communities, focused on knowledge creation. That transition benefits from librarianship embracing new thinking with regard to library spaces, emerging technologies, agility, enhanced collaboration and extended community outreach.  Each of those areas requires new skills and thus continuous learning.  This talk will examine these aspects of librarianship in the years ahead.

4:30 - 5:00 p.m. Roundtable Discussion


Additional Information

  • Cancellations made by Wednesday, December 5, 2018 will receive a refund, less a $35 cancellation. After that date, there are no refunds.

  • Registrants will receive detailed instructions about accessing the virtual conference via e-mail the Friday prior to the event. (Anyone registering between Monday and the close of registration will receive the message shortly after the registration is received, within normal business hours.) Due to the widespread use of spam blockers, filters, out of office messages, etc., it is your responsibility to contact the NISO office if you do not receive login instructions before the start of the webinar.

  • If you have not received your Login Instruction e-mail by 10 a.m. (ET) on the day before the virtual conference, please contact the NISO office at for immediate assistance.

  • Registration is per site (access for one computer) and includes access to the online recorded archive of the conference. You may have as many people as you like from the registrant's organization view the conference from that one connection. If you need additional connections, you will need to enter a separate registration for each connection needed.

  • If you are registering someone else from your organization, either use that person's e-mail address when registering or contact to provide alternate contact information.

  • Conference presentation slides and Q&A will be posted to this event webpage following the live conference.

  • Registrants will receive an e-mail message containing access information to the archived conference recording within 48 hours after the event. This recording access is only to be used by the registrant's organization.

For Online Events

  • You will need a computer for the presentation and Q&A.
  • Audio is available through the computer (broadcast) and by telephone. We recommend you have a set-up for telephone audio as back-up even if you plan to use the broadcast audio as the voice over Internet isn't always 100% reliable.

It is your responsibility to ensure that your system is properly set up before each webinar begins.