Academic Libraries in the Digital Age

Academic Libraries in the Digital Age

Charissa Odelia Jefferson (California State University, Northridge, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5888-2.ch473
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The academic library is designating more social information spaces (Beard & Bawden, 2012). The physical spaces of libraries are expanding to incorporate a learning commons, which is a center designed to encourage collaborative group learning and stimulate intellectual interactions. Moreover, these “intentionally created spaces are designed deliberately to shape and encourage the formation of knowledge by the learner” (Stewart, 2009, p. 15). The space is re-conceptualized to imagine activities beyond the traditional library space into an active collaborative space.

Christopher Stewart, in his dissertation on Academic library buildings in the digital age, explored theories of educational architecture and emerging design themes which include collaborative spaces in new library buildings. He argues that in order for the academic library to survive, one must look at how libraries are building their space to serve their community’s needs having been influenced by technology. It is technology that “has reshaped library services, collection, and, of course, the library’s physical space” (Stewart, 2009, p. 14). He states, “The emergence of the Internet as a vehicle for delivering scholarly information has altered the way people use the library and has caused library planners to rethink the library’s traditional role in academic life” (Stewart, 2009, p. 14).

The academic library’s mission is to serve the students and faculty in support of the curriculum. Library instruction and information literacy programming enhance the overall institutional mission and contribute to students’ academic success and retention. Added classrooms and other instructional space emphasize the library’s pedagogical function to address challenges of complexity of information in the digital age. As the curriculum evolves, so must the academic library transform to accommodate the high-level technologies and multi-use of library spaces. For example, math and writing tutor labs are set up in the library. So now a student can go to the library as a one-stop-shop. Start at the reference desk for research, head over to the writing lab for assistance on the project, and end at the IT desk for help to produce the project in digital format.

The information commons has been a solution for many academic and research libraries that provide technology related services populated by both librarians and technology experts. Some technology services offered include tablet and laptop checkout as well as plug-ins to accommodate patrons who bring their own portable computing devices. Wireless computing and printing is also a component in many learning commons technology arenas.

A survey of sixty-six ARL libraries by the Association of Research Libraries in 2009 found indicators of successful uses of innovative spaces such as a learning or information commons. From this survey, the learning commons has been proven to provide increased productivity and usage of the library, greater flexibility in spaces used, positive feedback from faculty, staff, and students, and a positive impact on the entire academic culture. Thus, the learning commons has become an influence on building community on campus.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Asynchronous Tutorials: Instructional lessons pre-recorded in the form of digital learning objects, to be viewed online anytime.

Transliteracies: Literacy across various types of text, media and formats.

Information Commons: An area within the library building which may host more than one service such as reference and information technology.

Learning Commons: An area within the library building designed to inspire intellectual stimulation, conversation, and collaboration.

Repository: An online receptacle where information is stored and accessible by an institution or collective group of institutions.

Patron Driven Acquisitions (PDA): A method of collection development when the quantity of initial usage of an e-book determines if the library will purchase the item.

Open Access: A publication or learning object that is free of cost and free from copyright restrictions.

Embedded Librarian: A librarian who is able to, at minimum, participate in online class discussion forums within a course management system.

Information Literacy: Critical thinking of the quality, quantity, and relevance of texts and media.

Born Digital: An item that was originally created in digital format and not analog.

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