Reflection Blog #4 – The Changing Space of the CSULB Library

When I reviewed the course content on new models I, once again, thought about how my workplace, the CSULB library, fit into how library spaces are adapting. While it has long been discussed that libraries are moving away from being simply warehouses of books, it wasn’t until I watched Pam Sandlian Smith’s TEDtalk did I understand, at its core, what the library space was actually for. It is a “space for learning” (Smith, 2013)! Once upon a time the best way to facilitate learning was thought to be through books, but as technology and different learning styles emerge books are not necessarily king. As a library technician, I have found myself concerned with the continually lack of physical material in CSULB library. In my mind, a lack of books, periodicals, and journals meant a lack of resources. But, as I reconsider the reason for the change, or rather my understanding of why this change was taking place, I am starting to change my opinion. The books taken off shelves to make way for open study spaces should not be viewed as a taking away of learning materials, but rather an opening up for learning opportunities. 

I wonder where my hesitance for these changes came from? Perhaps it was because when introduced to staff these changes were explained as “following library trends” and not framed as important for student success. In an Long Beach Post article titled “Robots, 3D printers and outlet shortages: College libraries are changing with the times” one our librarians exclaimed “You always have to be looking at what’s the next trend, what are we going to do?” (September 6, 2018). As my previous blog posts have reflected, I am weary of this idea that we, as the CSULB library, need to implement change as a way of “keeping up with the Jones”, or prove that we were the first to implement something. I am starting to think that my fear comes from the fact that administrators demonstrate success of these changes through applauding the change, rather than how this change has reflected in student success. I am glad that this module, and course as a whole, is allowing me to reflect on my long held beliefs and hopefully be more agreeable to my library’s every changing space.

Library Tour & Essentials - Course Guide for ENGR 361/RSCH 361 - Research  Guides at California State University, Long Beach
Cal State University, Long Beach Library – 5th Floor Group Study Space

Work Cited:

Osier, V. (2018, September 6). Robots, 3D printers and outlet shortages: College libraries are changing with the times. Long Beach Post.

Smith, P. S. (2013, December). What to expect from libraries in the 21st century: Pam Sandlian Smith at TEDxMileHigh [Video]. TED Conferences.

3 thoughts on “Reflection Blog #4 – The Changing Space of the CSULB Library

  1. Michael Charney says:

    Hello Kellie!
    Is it just me or does “following trends” seem like one step removed from “following orders” which is never a fun or good way of doing things? Trends can be false starts and/or overinflated (just think Google Glasses or 3D Movies/TVs). When I think of following trends I think of the people who lease brand new cars, constantly updating to the latest model each year because they want to make a statement on their hipness on what they drive. Over time they end up spending way more money than if they had maybe bought a slightly used car and kept it for a decade or so. It’s not as trendy, but it’s a perfectly serviceable way to go from point A to point B and sometimes Point C. If we do our research, like we’ve been doing in this class, experiment, and probe staff and users instead of just chasing rainbows, new plans and updates to old ones often turn out much sturdier and more cost effective then if we chase the latest trends.

    Your post also brings up the point that it doesn’t matter how well thought out a program is, if it’s not explained well to staff and the community (and based on their own evaluation) it’s less likely to succeed. If CSULB had explained the shifting from bookshelves to multi-purpose spaces as an opportunity for student success, it wouldn’t have been as bitter of a pill to swallow. However, as you said administors demonstrate success less on evidence of it supporting the students and more on that a change was made and that the library is seen as staying trendy, it may not be a message problem but just a “they were lucky and followed the right trend.” One hopes it was the former rather than the latter.

  2. Rosa Hughes says:

    Hi Kellie, This made a lot of sense to have a sense of reticence on adopting new technologies or ideas as just the next trend that needs to be followed. Both Michael Casey and Stacy Ledden spoke about multiple meetings that their respective libraries had with employees in order to explain the changes that were incipient within the library. It seems like the library really needs to be thoughtful about the approach when rolling out these new decisions because employee buy in and enthusiasm can be a defining factor in their success.

  3. I appreciate your honest approach to your environment and the lens of our class that you use to reflect. Strong comments here too. These are important conversations.

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