The Lithuanian libraries’ future: scenario planning for developing strategies
During the last decade one can observe an increasing growth of publications dedicated to library future in general and specifically to scenario planning as a mean to envision the future. Most efforts of scenario and any other future-oriented thinking are motivated by the anxiety about library roles in the changing society and desire to use planning instruments for creating the niche for libraries in future, coping with an intellectual challenge of distinguishing major drivers of change and their impact on libraries. The turn of library researchers and practitioners to scenarios as tools of strategic planning can be explained by several heavily quoted advantages of this method. It provides a guided and disciplined framework for thinking of complex and „fuzzy‟ issues; builds on individual creativity, imagination and insights; allows exploration of different paths of possible and plausible changes in future; expresses complex issues as appealing and easy-to-understand stories about the future. The aim of the paper is to analyse the major changes, opportunities and challenges that will affect the development of the Lithuanian public, research and special libraries in 2023. The paper is based on scenario planning research carried out in the large-scale national project LiBiTOP in 2012-2013. The findings revealed that conditions of information access and involvement of libraries into the implementation of the national strategies will have a significant impact on the future demand of library services in Lithuania. Major opportunities for the development of libraries in future included a presence of issues in acquiring and use of information experienced by users and the state support to libraries. Threats covered high expectations and requirements to library services, high level of competition in information sector, and decreasing allocation of resources to libraries. The findings of scenario planning research could be usefully employed to develop the library responses to opportunities and threats and identify strategic alternatives for actions under different scenario conditions.