Friday, February 15, 2008

Are you part of the scenario?

Another tragedy struck a college campus yesterday in the U.S. Schools used to be safe places, but we can't assume that anymore.

In 2002, the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University (SU) began building scenarios for what changes my occur over the next 10 years and how the School would need to respond. For example, it was becoming more difficult for foreign students to receive U.S. visas. How would that impact a program that attracted a high percentage of foreign students? Would that mean offering more online classes? And how would that impact the School's resources?

Your organizations may be creating their own scenarios concerning the impact of the economy, the impact of environment (and green initiatives), changes in the workforce, and changes security -- not only the security of employees and customers, but also the security of the building and collections.

As you are planning a digital collection, think about the various scenarios that could occur and how they may impact what you are doing. Think of as many "what ifs" as possible -- both positive and negative -- and then consider their impact on you.

Now think about how your digital collections could play a positive role in a scenario. If people begin to fear public spaces, could your digital collections provide information and experiences to them in the safety of their own homes?

By the way, scenarios take a while to develop, so don't try to do one in a minute (if you're truly serious about it). The team I was on at SU took months to talk and to develop several scenarios. We had to do research as well as bounce ideas off of each other. In the end, we presented them to a larger group, who then looked at what we might do now in order to be ready for the different futures that could come to pass. As time passes, we'll know if the scenarios helped the School plan correctly.

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