This is an edited version of the Preface to the catalogue of the Futures Research Library of Wayne I. Boucher, written by the author at the time of the sale of the collection, in October 2008.
The full Preface, together with the complete annotated catalogue is available in print form for consultation in the Oxford Futures Library.
This catalogue reflects an attempt, spread over some forty-five years, to build a serious working library on futures research and related subjects. Though limited almost entirely to publications in the English language, the coverage of the main approaches, theories, methodologies, applications, and appraisals is unusually complete. This would seem to be true despite the fact that the coverage tends to peter out in more recent years, a result not only of a less vigorous acquisition effort on my part, but also of a truly striking decline in the output of works that are worth having because they contribute something substantially new and valuable to the field.
This is not to say, however, that the collection is balanced, in the sense that it provides a fair sampling of the entire futures literature: for instance, I have generally ignored publications intended to tell the reader what the future will or should be like. Most of this literature not only has a half-life of less than three months, but it also typically makes highly imperfect use of historical data, relies on a dubious methodology or fails to provide an adequate description of it, often is created with a special interest or special audience in mind, and, as sadly, pays only the slightest attention to the systematic development of alternative futures or rigorous policy analysis. Included, however, are noteworthy bestsellers in this genre, as well as publications on subjects that have been particular substantive interests of mine professionally from time to time, such as war and peace, financial services, governmental innovation, etc.
A special feature of this catalogue is the annotations. I have not annotated everything, and many of the annotations are descriptive rather than critical, but for the rest I have not hesitated to praise or damn without reservation. Most of these comments were written especially for this catalogue, but the rest were written over the years for a variety of other purposes, including off-the-record private communications. For old hands and newcomers alike, these comments, now on the record, will I hope prove valuable or at least stimulating.
Wayne I. Boucher October 2008