Now, as the nation and its major metropolitan areas reach a series of critical demographic junctures, forging a constructive path forward to the “next society” is as much about helping communities manage the velocity of change as it is about responding to its specific character. Failure to maximize shared responses to the inevitable challenges of change, and to promote common ownership of the solutions, will only serve to sow the seeds of intergenerational and inter-racial, inter-ethnic conflict. The resulting polarization, already evident in our national politics, impedes adaptation and the timeless American struggle to form a more perfect union.
Understanding—from the ground up—who Americans are, and who they are becoming, is a critical step toward building those bridges before they become impassable divides. We hope that the State of Metropolitan America proves a useful platform from which to build that understanding.
In the 2101 Brookings Study, the State of Metropolitan America: On the Front Lines of Demographic Transformation the socio-economic context for library service can be characterized in the face of five new realities: 1) growth and outward expansion of metropolitan American; 2) population diversification; 3) aging of the population; 4) uneven higher educational attainment; and 5) income polarization.