THE HYPERLINKED ACADEMIC LIBRARY: Whether it be a highly-funded research university in an urban city, or a small community college in rural town which has primarily low-income students, there’s one thing that’s certain across the board for all academic libraries: everything’s changing and it’s our responsibility as LIS professionals to meet the ever-changing, information-related needs of our patrons for them to succeed both academically and professionally. From providing a range of makerspaces, to ensuring that patrons are having their basic, everyday living needs met, it’s our duty as LIS professionals to help the academic library become more than just a place for those who seek scholarly-related assistance.
In Barbara Fister’s “The Boundaries of ‘Information’ in Information Literacy,” she discloses the growing importance of ensuring that students are able to successfully navigate our ever-changing information landscape by stating that, “[s]tudents need to learn how to use academic libraries to do academic work. But not all information is academic, and students will need to know something about the wider landscape of information to function in a world that’s highly driven by networked and powerful information systems” (2017). By understanding that our goals as academic librarians shouldn’t be solely based on developing the most up-to-date collections of scholarly materials, but–more importantly–to provide students with the necessary makerspaces and help them learn how to utilize technologies required for academic and professional success.
Likewise, Keith Webster notes the shift in academic library environments in, “Reimagining the Role of the Library in the Digital Age: Changing the Use of Space and Navigating Information Landscape,” where he asserts that: “[w]e see two fundamental differences, though: firstly, the majority of today’s students are not using libraries in a traditional sense. They pass by our collections and rarely interact with librarians. Secondly, the form of student work today is very different from the past. It often requires collaboration with other students, the creation of tangible objects using technology housed in the library, the pursuit of interdisciplinary debate, and all of that has to be accommodated alongside a continued demand for quiet study environments,” both of which further supports the other trends in LIS literature for additional makerspaces in all sizes of academic libraries (2017). We, as modern-day LIS professionals need to advocate for services and the changes of current library spatial configurations to support our patrons is the most effective ways possible.
And while there’s much that can be solved through the implementation of makerspaces, we, as LIS professionals, shouldn’t limit place any restrictions on how we can further support our patrons beyond the standard, quinessetnial library services. Joe Hardenbrook’s blog, “Starting a Food Pantry in an Academic Library,” sheds light on a less-than-talked-about matter—which LIS professionals can play a part in combating—that plagues many modern-day university students: food insecurities (2019). Between finals, the stressors of living in foreign environments, the balance of school-work life, and maintaining one’s sanity, the very last thing students should be concerned about is where their next meal is coming from—yet that’s, sadly, not the case for a growing number of students. My beloved alma mater, Humboldt State University, has had an ongoing issue with food insecurities within its student population (and the surrounding community). Thankfully, Hardenbrook introduces an unconventional approach to the issue: an open-access, non-judgmental, “take what you need, give when you can” pantry (2019). And while the most predictable items (e.g. granola bars, dried fruits/nuts, ramen, etc.) may be found in the pantry, other high-demand everyday essential items (e.g. tampons, toothpaste/toothbrushes, soap, etc.) are also accepted (Hardenbrook, 2019). The philosophy held by Hardenbrook and his colleagues has wholeheartedly inspired me to work towards implementing a similar program at whichever academic library I end up serving. Regardless of whether or not a campus is known for its students suffering from food insecurities, the implementation of a “take what you need, give when you can” style of pantry will surely support patrons in more profound ways than many might be able to imagine.
Fister, B. (2017). The boundaries of ‘information’ in information literacy. Retrieved from https://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/library-babel-fish/boundaries-information-information-literacy
Hardenbrook, J. (2019). Starting a food pantry in an academic library. Retrieved from https://mrlibrarydude.wordpress.com/2019/09/13/starting-a-food-pantry-in-an-academic-library/
Webster, K. (2017). Reimagining the role of the library in the digital age: Changing the use of space and navigating the information landscape. Retrieved from https://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