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Trends & Futures

This online course is no longer being updated online. It's only available through the Canvas website for the current course offering. 

After completing this session, you'll be able to:

Begin by viewing the class presentation in Vimeo. Then, read each of the sections of this page for more detail.

Explore each of the following topics on this page:


Collection development and management trends are numerous and varied.

Digital Libraries

Increasingly, libraries are moving online. From providing access to digital downloads to offering online book clubs, digital libraries are just beginning to have an impact. Librarians responsible for acquisitions must consider how users access information. In many cases, the ebook version of a title will be purchased or a traditional print subscription may become a digital subscription. This has implications for the library budget and how the library is used.

Digital Collections

Many libraries are looking for ways to share their original content online. From digital heritage collections to scientific archives, many libraries are creating digital collections. These collections may include digital archives, data collections, and scholarly communications. A number of free software tools such as Omeka are available to create digital collections.

To learn more, explore the Digital Libraries course.

Technology for Selection and Access

ebook readerCollection developers are increasingly using social media in selection. Dominguez and Ovadia (2011, 145) use Twitter note that

"Twitter allows librarians to find not only material but also what patrons are saying about it. Twitter has the potential to allow collection development librarians to obtain real-time data on what materials their patrons are discussing, requesting, and enjoying."

How do you provide access to electronic resources once they've been identified or purchased? They're difficult to "see". Marketing virtual library services is growing in importance.

Handouts with QR codes are a quick way to provide access to remote resources. View the Quick Spooks example by Melissa Glidden. It provides quick access to spooky online stories.

try itRead!
Dominguez, D. V., & Ovadia. S. (2011). What's next for collection management and managers?: Twitter: A collection development discovery tool for and by the people. Collection Management, 36(3), 145-153.


The introduction of eBooks is one example of the many challenges that have come from innovation. New ways of storing, sharing, and accessing information are likely to emerge in the future. Although these new approaches and tools can be wonderful for information users, they bring challenges for librarians trying to provide access.

reader group

try itRead!
Bosman, J. (2011, March 15). Library e-books live longer, so publisher limits shelf life. New York Times.


Atkinson (2006, 245) noted that in the past one of the purposes of building a collection was to "privilege particular objects as being more useful or reliable" than others. However over the past decade, users have increasingly had the universe of information available at their fingertips. Atkinsons wonders how this new universal access environment impacts privileging.

"Privileging was easy under traditional circumstances. It was done by making an object available in a relatively short period of time—the amount of time the user needs to go to the library—as opposed to the far longer time needed to access a nonprivileged object through interlibrary loan. Privileging means to make the object more useful and more used by making it more available. But how is such privileging to be effected when both the universe and the collection are available in five seconds? Or, even more to the point, how is privileging possible when the universe is accessible in five seconds, and the collection is available in ninety seconds—because the doorway to the collection, the catalog, requires more time to use than a universal search engine? It is now as if everything has been reversed: the universe is in fact now being privileged at the expense of the collection."

Vendor Section

Hoffert (2007) and others have identified the shift from library-based selection toward the use of vendors in making selection decisions.

Even an October 17, 2010 Chronicle of Higher Education article entitled "Library, Inc." by Daniel Goldstein declared that libraries have become commercialized at the hands of their vendors.

Standards Correlations

For academic and school libraries, correlating the collection to standards is essential.

In the K-12 environment, the Common Core standards are posing a new challenge. An emphasis on the use of information, 21st century tools, and research skills are providing an opportunity to reinforce the importance of the school library.

Cost Saving Practices

Librarians are increasingly pinching pennies. With financial pressures and quickly changing technology, it can be difficult to build collections that meet the constantly changing needs of users. Be creative!

try itRead!
Sich, Dan (2012). Dungeons and downloads: collecting tabletop fantasy role-playing games in the age of downloadbale PDFs. Collection Building, 31(2), 60-65.

The Real World

pincherMany collection issues are on a larger scale and challenge the definition of a library. While Borders and Blockbuster were going out of business, Amazon announced that they sold more eBooks than hardcover books in 2009 and Netflix reported a fourth consecutive quarter of more than one million new net subscribers. If everything is in digital form available for download – books, movies, music, software – what is a library and where does it fit in with this evolving form?

A document was recently released entitled Redefining the Academic Library.  It states, "The library's traditional role as a repository for physical books and periodicals is quickly fading, with important implications for space utilization, resource acquisition, and staffing." (2011, viii). Areas of change covered in this report include the fact that the quality of a library should no longer be measured by the size of its collection; the steady rise of journal costs is moving some scholarly publication to nonprofit, open access journals; academic library users meet most of their information needs without stepping into a physical library building; and academic library circulation and reference requests have been on the decline.

sandIf your library is simply a physical place, it may soon be gone. Your library must be more than walls, chairs, and bookcases. It must be more than paper books.

The sand beneath our feet is shifting, and librarians need to decide what libraries will look like in ten or twenty years and head in that direction.

If we don't guide the direction, others will feel that we aren't relevant and allocate resources in other areas. So, what will your collection look like, who will it serve, and how will you demonstrate that you are relevant in the year 2030?



Atkinson, R. (2006). Six key challenges for the future of collection development. Library Resources & Technical Services, 50, 244-251.

Dominguez, D. V., & Ovadia. S. (2011). What's next for collection management and managers?: Twitter: A collection development discovery tool for and by the people. Collection Management, 36(3), 145-153.

Goldstein, Daniel (October 17, 2010). Library Inc. The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Hoffert, Barbara (September 1, 2007). Who's selecting now? As Phoenix Public Library boldy passes on selection responsibilities to its vendors, some libraries follow - and others dig in. Library Journal, 40.

Sich, Dan (2012). Dungeons and downloads: collecting tabletop fantasy role-playing games in the age of downloadbale PDFs. Collection Building, 31(2), 60-65.

Portions of this page were adapted from Collection Development & Management by Irwin and Albee (2012).

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