Predicting the future is notoriously difficult, writes Keith Webster, Dean of Libraries at Carnegie Mellon University.
The array of forces that impact upon the library’s operating environment makes any modelling of transformation during the coming years an almost impossible task. The political and economic forces that drive the functions and finances of parent institutions, the imperative for commercial publishers to meet investor’s demands for earnings per share growth, technological advances from Silicon Valley and beyond, are all part of the world in which the library will have to flourish.
What we can do, however, is look at trends and consider how best to take advantage of these to develop a library that is positioned for success tomorrow. A glance at the world of the academic library in 2017 reveals a few key themes that are conditioning professional practice, resource allocation, and investment priorities. These include the creation of advanced learning environments for students, an increasing move towards a global, distributed collection of information resources, the deployment of tools and technologies required to curate the evolving scholarly record, and a growing expectation of both domain and methodological expertise among recruits to the library profession.
Against this backdrop, in its strategic plan to 2025, Carnegie Mellon University announced its intention to create a 21st century library that serves as a cornerstone of world-class research and scholarship. While a large part of our vision is built upon a large-scale shift to digital forms of content, and web-based services, we are certain that the library will remain a vital presence on campus...
21st-century library spaces for 21st-century learners
Today, many universities are building new, or remodelling old, libraries to meet demands for serious space – learning environments that support interactions with information in a variety of forms. The design of the contemporary library draws heavily upon the space reallocation made possible by advanced storage retrieval systems (bookBots) and the transfer to offsite storage of lesser-used collections, freeing up space to meet student demand. While today’s libraries are busier than ever, few students make extensive use of traditional offerings such as lending collections and reference services.
Libraries will continue to be recognised as a place of research and learning for the entire university community, at the heart of the campus-based experience. They will provide an array of spaces to meet a variety of learning needs: individual and group study, collaboration and fabrication spaces, active learning studios, and an array of specialist learning technologies. As access to the contemporary scholarly record in digital form becomes universal, libraries will create specialised facilities for the special collections and archives which distin guish most clearly one library from another. On many campuses, libraries will also serve as an academic commons, providing an opportunity for faculty and students to interact across disciplinary boundaries, and in a space that reflects the diversity of the university community.
Source: Research Information