When I outlined how I view the academic library in the 21st century in a blog post last fall I chose to focus on the library as: space, services and web. Print material is still extremely important but it is not necessarily central to what we are trying to do. On a recent trip to Nashville a good friend of mine helped me to rethink or simple restate these categories of librarianship as we look to the future. I believe that service is still a vital part of what the library provides but perhaps service is something that permeates the digital, physical and pedagogical aspects of a library. So below I will outline the Digital, The Physical and the Pedagogical by giving examples of things that we are doing to enhance our library services at Union.
The Digital: The conversion to a Web hosted Catalog through OCLC is a huge step forward. I recognize that it may be frustrating for some users now since our new catalog is (under development) but the new OCLC catalog will have advantages like the ability to request inter-library loans with just one click and a google-like spelling completion when you search. The new catalog will also find journal articles and other eResources that the old catalog would not. This will be a big step forward in our digital services.
new library! The new library at Union is our main focus now but over the past year we have tried to enhance the libraries current space by painting, redecorating the restrooms, moving the films out for browsing and hanging student art in the library. Academic Libraries all over the country are still buzzing with students. The physical library is not, "just a warehouse for books" but rather a collaborative learning space with a café, more technology and a possible lecture auditorium. Ray Oldenburg's idea of the Great Good Place is a key concept here.
The Research Coach. Lately I have found that building partnerships with faculty has been really key in having a successful research coach process. It is important to understand the assignment and the subject matter to help students shape their research question and find the best sources. In this age of "information overload" the teaching or pedagogical aspect of librarianship become a paramount service.