The academic library traditionally was the hub for ‘serious’ academic study. For (post-) graduate work and staff research activity. It held the scarce resources necessary for this work – journals, books, and databases in the form of bibliographies and concordances. Library staff supported academic endeavour, and for the student brave enough, if allowed, to venture within its hallowed halls, it held untold delights in terms of unlockable, accessible knowledge.
Today’s libraries in many institutions have swung a long way from this model, for better and worse, possibly even to become commodities – study spaces and social learning spaces appear often as the main drivers for design and re-design. How many spaces can we fit in to meet demand?
We may not have seen the expected, technological, online revolution in learning yet come to fruition, indeed it is hard to imagine what that will look like when it does, but there is no denying that pervasive, online culture is influencing student, staff and learning behaviour. Linked to this is the changing landscape of Higher Education across the UK, and concomitant challenges.
What do we think about this, and maybe more importantly, how should we think about this?
Is a university still a group of buildings around a library? Or in the digital age is the university, in its entirety, a library.