Christian Lauersen, head of Facutly Library at the University of Copenhagen, writes about the creation of the Digital Social Sciences Lab at the University, and once again, I am reminded of something similar where I work – the Digital Humanities Center at the San Diego State University Library. The DHC will replace the Library’s Media Center – an archaic basement space with 80s-era individual faux wood testing cubbies with metal chairs, a few stacks of DVDs, and a Betamax player – and is currently under renovation. The plans for the space are really exciting. It’s being designed to encourage collaboration, utilizes creative spaces, and allows for data visualization (and really, so much more). It will continue to use the type of moveable furniture with which the Library has been replacing its old stationary tables and chairs to allow users to create spaces that maximize collaboration, creativity, and comfort. Lauersen refers to this as “intelligent study environment” (Lauersen, 2015).
As Mathews (2015) and Webster (2017) both note, new user-friendly technologies have resulted in a decline in librarian-patron interaction, but there is no question that the expertise of information professionals is as crucial now as it’s ever been. This is especially true in promoting information literacy in an informationally overloaded environment. It is (or will be) our job to help patrons navigate the information landscape using critical thinking skills. In order to do this, we have to meet patrons where they are – and they are in, around, and defined by technologies. This is why the creation of interactive, collaborative spaces within academic libraries is so important. At the heart of these ideas of digital humanities/social science spaces is a truly hyperlinked community. Lauersen (2016) asks us to remember why Caesar crossed the Rubicon – because his surroundings were changing, because if he remained in Gaul, maintained the status quo, he would eventually be made obsolete, redundant. What a fine analogy for what libraries have been facing now for decades – change, move, evolve, or get left behind.
Lauersen, C. (2015, March 14). Bringing technology and academia together: The making of Digital Social Science Lab [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://christianlauersen.net/2015/03/14/bringing-technology-and-academia-together-the-making-of-digital-social-science-lab/
Lauersen, C. (2016, March 8). Towards Rubicon: The Academic Library and the importance of making a choice [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://christianlauersen.net/2016/03/08/towards-rubicon/
Mathews, B. (2015, May 27). The evolving & expanding service landscape across academic libraries [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://www.chronicle.com/blognetwork/theubiquitouslibrarian/2015/05/27/the-evolving-expanding-service-landscape-across-academic-libraries/
Webster, K. (2017, February 15). Reimagining the role of the library in the digital age: Changing the use of space and navigating the information landscape [Blog post]. Retrieved from 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