Academic Libraries and Future Trends

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Brad Lukanic argues that, contrary to the claims of those who believe academic libraries are no longer relevant (because of the shift of library resources to the Internet), they still have a vital role to play.  In particular, they are redefining themselves as hubs of intellectual curiosity and scholarly collaboration–places to which Lukanic refers as “intellectual conveners”.

Lukanic identifies four areas in which academic libraries must make changes in order to embrace fully this new role.

Having a say in campus-wide strategic planning–Libraries need to ensure that their long-term goals match those of the broader institution, especially with many departments competing for financial resources and campus space.  At the same time, institutional leaders must take an active role in determining what the library’s needs are, through staff surveys and other direct feedback.

Making technology a core part of customer service–Academic libraries have long embraced new technologies and integrated them into service.  With the pace of technological chaining increasing, however, and with mobile technology in particular becoming ubiquitous, libraries must harness this technology to reach as many students as possible.  More importantly, libraries should encourage users to take advantage of opportunities that mobile technology gives them to connect with each other; this greater interconnectivity can result in the curiosity and debate that results in new ideas.

Embracing flexibility–As part of long-term planning, academic libraries must consider how future trends will impact them, and whether or not current resources can be adapted to meet these challenges.  These are not just technological trends, but also changes in educational philosophies.  Collaborative spaces such as media labs, in addition to individualized study spaces, can serve a range of future purposes as needed, while at the same time making the library appear more “cutting edge” and attractive to potential students.

Creating places for engagement–Building on the first three areas, Lukanic suggests that the shift from libraries being merely spaces for storing materials will culminate in their becoming places for engagement across the entire campus community.  In addition to demonstrating the library’s organic role in the larger campus community (instead of simply being a stand-alone entity), engagement also gives libraries the opportunity to set the pace in determining what direction a particular campus, and higher education as a whole, will take.

Here is the link to the article: 4 Ways Academic Libraries are Adapting for the Future

Any thoughts on how we have already met some of these challenges, or could use current resources to do so?  More generally, despite the necessity of embracing technological change and becoming centers of engagement, is there a point at which libraries might be moving too far from their “traditional” role as storehouses of information?

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