Change is all around us. According to Fister (2016), “Google and Amazon changed the way people search and shop, combining convenience with previously unimaginable amounts of consumer choice, making libraries scramble to keep up with expectations.” There’s no denying the internet has affected the way individuals go about their daily business. With that being said, academic libraries are also changing to reflect the times as libraries are no longer just a place to store print materials.
Long are the days where students used card catalogs to locate particular books or periodicals. Now students can access information at home, their dorm room, or coffee shop without stepping into the library. With information readily available online, students are not seeking the guidance of reference librarians as often, compared to students 20 years ago. Yet, Fister (2016) believes librarians are still needed because “we may help [students] think more critically about where knowledge comes from and how they can participate in making sense of things.” This is especially true with fake news which is a hot topic as of late.
So how are academic libraries staying relevant within their community? With the library’s physical and virtual spaces. Webster (2017), explains that libraries should be “operating in a hybrid environment both in the use of information resources and in the use of library spaces: we must meet information needs from both print and digital sources, and we need to provide spaces that serve those who need collaborative facilities.” Libraries are incorporating digital sources such as: ebooks, online journals, and digital archives. Webster also talks about how some libraries are moving print materials to storage facilities to make room for collaborative spaces. This has been especially true at the academic library I work at. Last summer we relocated half of our reference collection to make room for more collaborative group areas within the library. Since this is something the students are continuously asking for.
This has actually boggled my mind within the last two years. There are student centers on campus where groups can congregate. Yet, the students for some reason like coming to library to hang out with their friends. Maybe it’s the furniture, maybe its the library environment, or maybe the library just has some type of vibe that the students like compared to other places on campus? Whatever the case may be the library is not considered highly as a place to seek information but a place to study or hang out. Which is different compared to when I was an undergrad roughly 10 years ago.
Fister, B. (2016). Reframing libraries. Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved from http://insidehighered.com
Webster, K. (2017). Reimagining the role of the library in the digital age: Changing the use of space and navigating the information landscape. The London School of Economics and Political Science. Retrieved from http://blogs.lse.ac.uk