Sunday, December 9, 2007

Academic Libraries As Place

The librarians at my university will be meeting this week to discuss what is often referred to as "library as place." We will look at this from a couple of perspectives. We have all read and will discuss the third of a five part strategy in this article: Lewis, David W. “A Strategy for Academic Libraries in the First Quarter of the 21st Century.” May 2007. Freely available at the IUPUI Digital Archive(Revised version of “A Model for Academic Libraries 2005 to 2025.”) We will also discuss a report written by our library director on the library as place that addresses general trends and space use implications for our university.
Some of what I expect our group will discuss:
What should the academic library of the future look like? How will the needs of our students, faculty and staff be changing? How can we begin to address those needs (with limited funding) now? How should we prioritize the needs for now and in the future-what is most important? (And how will the role of the academic librarian fit into these new spaces? But that's probably another meeting.)
Ideally academic libraries will begin to incorporate technologies which address the changing needs of our students. As mobile learning continues to be developed in the U.S. students will need and appreciate spaces where they can come together to collaborate on projects or just to socialize. The video below gives us a taste of some of what I'm sure academic libraries of the future will include. I also think we can learn a great deal from watching how businesses are currently using new collaborative technologies such as this bar/lounge (scroll to photos of computer tables in lounge at the bottom of the page).
So if I was given a $25K donation right now to bring important future technologies into my academic library, I would begin by adding a wall size touch screen computer as shown in the video below along with at least one interactive digital table and a 4D Globe. My guess is these would be a hit with both students and faculty and the library would become a more desired and popular place on campus.


Charlie said...

One of the other things we will need to discuss, as will every other library staff that approaches this subject, is what obstacles must be overcome to move forward? What resistance will librarians face? What resistance will we face from within the ranks of the library world? What are our own hesitations to move into a new paradigm?

Cyril Oberlander said...

Hello Charlie and Robin,

Charlie's point about resistance is an important one. Moving forward requires a new type of organizing principle, and by practice, I think our cooperative leadership has been quite successful, but not nearly enough for the transition ahead. I sometimes call it being academic, but libraries must strive to work together in stronger network strategies that scale service better. The Summit catalog is one simple example, but it takes an organization to guide/lead the cooperative service. Can that same leadership leverage larger approaches; Regional Library Services Center, etc., and we will see slow and steady growth aggregating our services, allowing us to focus on local strategies that help us decide what makes sense at our library, in our environment.

Robin Ashford said...

Charlie and Cyril,

Thanks for the comments. I really had not considered resistance to change of this sort as being much of a concern. I didn't think everyone would be real excited but since there won't be much choice in the matter, I figured people will understand that we have to do what's necessary. I'm still thinking about how the mentality you both mentioned could hinder academic libraries from moving forward, especially when it comes to cooperative efforts.