I’m choosing to focus on the hyperlinked academic library, but specifically, the law library and it’s changing landscapes. Much of the literature we have been reading pertains to changing the space of the library as the materials users are needing and wanting also evolves. In law specifically, the print materials quickly become out of date at the law changes, literally every day. Due to this, digital resources are often the surest and quickest way to get the most accurate answer to a query about a specific legal matter. This trend is not specific to law libraries, but it does mean that a majority of our collection is unnecessary for a good portion of our users. As Keith Webster writes, “We need to rethink our business model for the digital age and redesign our model of interaction with the research community” (Webster, 2017). I think this also means we need to rethink the physical space and how we use it in our libraries.
One idea that has caught my eye throughout my research about changing physical spaces is the idea of makerspaces. One review of the possibilities of makerspaces explains, “a makerspace is an area where people can come together to create things, experiment and learn together” (Jones, 2013). In this model, the library allows for space for patrons to collaborate as well as utilize the library in the traditionally solitary and quiet way. By allowing for more spaces in which our law students can study together, respectively and calmly debate, and bounce idea off of each other, a makerspace encourages learning in which you are not alone. In reality, when our law students graduate and many go on to be lawyers, it rarely is a solitary work environment. Collaboration is outrageously common given the many practice areas of law and the inter-connectedness of such specialties. For instance, if a lawyer is practicing family law, they will likely encounter tax law as well as estate law.
An idea I’ve had for our library is to withdraw and discard many of the out of date and unused materials that we are currently paying for to be kept untouched and air conditioned. By doing this, the shelves that line the library wall to wall can be eliminated making space for more collaboration spaces with soft seating, conference tables, charging stations and the like. I enjoy Antony Groves ideas about a pop-up makerspace that does not have to be permanent. By providing a space where new technologies can be discovered, explained, and tested, our students will not only be drawn back into the library, but our graduates may have the upper hand when it comes to knowing about emerging technologies. Having a space for a reference librarian to explain a new database or tool connects students with the librarians, brings them back physically, and helps them to stay up to date on top technologies and researching tools. This could also be a space where students learn new formulas for drafting different documents or learn new procedures. By keeping the space available for collaboration and learning, where students can make something together and with help, the makerspace allows for successes and failures to occur without grading consequences. This experimental space could help students gain confidence in their work and abilities as well. As change and adaptability continue to be the focus of the library, while the the user is always first and foremost priority, makerspaces help law students and in turn will help the school.
Antony Groves: http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2016/02/23/the-journey-of-a-pop-up-library-makerspace/
Keith Webster: http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2017/02/15/reimagining-the-role-of-the-library-in-the-digital-age-changing-the-use-of-space-and-navigating-the-information-landscape/?platform=hootsuite
Darren Jones: https://informationspaces.wordpress.com/tag/makerspace/