Librarians should determine the future of libraries in higher ed

It’s important to remember that librarians not only provide access to information resources, but are often the people most equipped and able to teach students about the ethical, technical, and strategic approaches to information resources. Librarians have always done both, but the balance, with a pronounced weight toward the latter, has been shifting for some time now.

Clash in the Stacks, by Carl Straumsheim on Inside Higher Ed

We put a lot of emphasis on space

But then students are our target audience:

“The vast majority of academics who responded – around 90% – saw the main role of the university library as a purchaser of content. While 45% described themselves as very dependent on their library for their work, only 2% of academics start their research with a visit to the library building.”

Source: Academics will need both the physical and virtual library for years to come

Reframing library space

“Further, the library must be willing to allow dedicated time for what happens after exploration. The “serve ‘em and send ‘em along” model is no longer serving a patronage whose information needs include planning, building and executing projects that utilize the strengths of librarianship (information organization and broad contextualization). Reframing the library as a productive place, a creative place engaged in producing and creating something – whether that be digital scholarly works or something else entirely – will open the door to allow the library into the life of the user.”

Source: Micah Vandegrift and Stewart Varner, “Evolving in Common: Creating Mutually Supportive Relationships Between Libraries and the Digital Humanities.”

Evolving toward a studio model

VA Tech is one of my models for what academic libraries should be in the 21st century. Even though I risk my UVA-degreed soul when I say that.

“At Virginia Tech we’re positioning ourselves to not only provide content, but to support content production. We think of this as not only about access to information, but also about enabling the creation of new knowledge. We’re evolving from a warehouse model toward a studio model.”

Source: Brian Matthews, ITERATE OR DIE: Reflecting on Blockbuster & Atari

Libraries as adjuncts

Academic libraries are becoming more than adjuncts to their home institutions with the increase of interdisciplinary research institutes, but that essential role, as adjuncts, is still at the core of everything we do. It also reminds me that I need to read WBT’s book.

“Because academic libraries are adjuncts to the institutions they serve, philosophizing about libraries is also philosophizing about higher education, specifically about the origin and purpose of research universities and the effect they have had on higher education and academic libraries […] Academic librarians are trying to support a scholarly mission to create better human beings and a better society through the creation of knowledge in all areas. That’s why we do what we do. There are worse jobs to have.”

Source: Library Journal