When I began the National Library of Medicine fellowship in 2002, people quickly began to ask, "What do you want to do? Where will you be in 5 years? 10 years?," etc. It's a natural question, but in my heart of hearts I had absolutely no idea. But saying "I don't know" is not appropriate. So I latched onto the idea that I would eventually be a library director, and ran with it.
That may still happen, but as I've gained some small understanding of what the director's job is like, I am not sure it is for me. My naive impression was that the director sets the library's direction and meets with external groups, leaving most day-to-day work to trusted staff. But it appears that there's more "daily grind" than I would do well.
If not the director, what else? Lately I've been mulling over the idea of starting something called (grandiosely) the Institute for the Future of Libraries. Every group seems to have a "think tank"; why not libraries? Our professional organizations are well equipped to provide continuing education and connections between colleagues. But, perhaps because libraries are so service-oriented, there is not much support for ongoing reflection on the nature and evolution of the profession.
This is always important, and I believe it is especially critical now. Change is constant, as Scott noted recently. But today's changes--when the nature of authoritative information is less clear, the status of copyright laws is unsettled, and folksonomy is challenging traditional structured vocabularies--feel particularly fundamental.
In a way, the Institute for the Future of Libraries would maintain a permanent environmental scan, of the sort that OCLC did so well in 2003. We could apply for start-up funds from OCLC (if they do such a thing!), or an appropriate foundation. Ongoing revenue would come from contracts in which librarian scholars demonstrate how "big picture" thinking can improve day-to-day operations at various libraries.
This idea is still many years from fruition, and needs a great deal of fleshing out for any chance to succeed. But the next time somebody asks what my future holds, I'll say, "think tank creator."