Just another #hyperlib Learning Community Site

To Destruction or Beyond?

There is a fear in the pit of my stomach. It is there like two serpents tangled together bashing about to be set loose. They become loud and venomous when I think about academic libraries that I visit on college campuses – rows on rows of desks for study space. Books as far as the eye can see. An archaic amount of silence like walking through a monastery. The lack of identity or community is palpable. It is the fear that academic libraries will go extinct. That at some point they will be seen as no more than glorified study halls, the only thing holding college presidents to keep them alive is nostalgia. That seemed no more apparent than during the remote operations of the pandemic when many academic libraries were closed. The librarians I spoke with had a fog over their eyes as they tried to comprehend what their purpose was. How do they stay relevant without a building with students?

Admittedly, much of what I heard, and saw, is anecdotal. But for those librarians who spoke to me it had a real impact and by association impacted me around my thoughts on the future of librarianship. What does it take to be more than a place with four walls and quite place to study? How does a library begin to build community? How does academic librarians start to believe that they can in fact be the change to spark innovation?  I think it first begins by accepting that times have changed. We can no longer sit idle while students come to us. As Keith Webster states, “users are able to meet their information needs outside the library and we need to redevelop our services so that we are interacting with and fitting in to the user’s workflow.” (What will academic librarians be tasked with doing, Para. 6). We must develop new means in order for patrons of the today and for the future to see us as a vital source of information. To continue to do workshops not only on research but also fun engaging activities such as making comic books, crocheting, dance lessons, or whatever activity that allows people to create and be curious within the library. To start there and continue forward like Virginia Tech with the goal in mind of the community to start creating and involving themselves within the library community.

I’m not saying it is going to be easy. In fact, it will be very uncomfortable throughout the stages of evolving. People will say that this is not what a library is supposed to be, but to not grow would mean to only accept our demise. Much like how the Anythink library model was developed in order to be saved from impending destruction – I’d much rather build before we are having to fight for our right to exist. And through that creation, having a firm understanding of our identity so whenever we are forced to be within new grounds, such as an online environment, we are prepared to do so by already having an understanding of ourselves.



  1. Anja Williams

    Hi Cesar! First of all, this post is written beautifully. I absolutely love the serpent simile! I am also fearful for the future of librarianship. Personally, when I was an undergraduate student, the academic libraries were far more than a glorified study hall to me. They were a safe space where I could go and write when I felt extremely depressed and needed to escape a bad living situation. Libraries are so important as refuges to so many people, homeless or otherwise. I agree with you though that we cannot wait for patrons to come to us and we most likely do need to make some changes to how libraries operate to stay relevant in the digital information world. When I tell people I work in a library, the initial response is usually “those still exist?” and that makes me extremely sad. We need to change, but we also need to make people see value in libraries how they are, because they provide extremely important services already, that often go overlooked. Thank you for your informative and beautiful post and I hope you have a good week!!

  2. Michael Stephens

    Cesar – The Webster quote solidified your thoughts and insights from talking to the academic librarians. This is the way.

Leave a Reply

The act of commenting on this site is an opt-in action and San Jose State University may not be held liable for the information provided by participating in the activity.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *