Like almost all education institutions, the university library is undergoing a number of changes because of technology and also the internet. Although some experts bemoan the developments and think that it may signal no more the university library as you may know it, Claire Shaw of The Guardian points out that just because libraries won\’t exist as they have?doesn’t mean that they will not a serve useful purpose in the coming years.
Universities themselves appear to be optimistic, with lots of having invested in new library facilities to satisfy the infrastructure and operational needs of technology. Diane Job, who leads library services at the University of Birmingham and it is currently charged with a redesign which will cost the school nearly 60 million, believes that the new facilities will make it easier for libraries to become ready to take up their evolving duties.
‘Future proofing’ the library building was one of many criteria for that design. Installing extra-strong floors and well-placed lighting will give you the flexibility and versatility that the library will need for the future, insists Job.
“We know that the changes can come, and what we\’re trying to do is consider the building and predict what some of those changes may be and build that in,” she says. “Our fundamental principle is putting people at the heart of the library C whereas libraries from a bygone age put the collections because the most important thing.”
This drive to refurbish, redesign and rebuild university libraries plays right into a wider shift occurring in?higher education?C the change in the manner students, researchers and?academics?are accessing and studying information.
In all these cases form follows function, because the main driver behind the renovations is pedagogy, based on Ann Rossiter, the director from the Society of school, National and University Libraries. However, the issue of whether aesthetics actually aid in learning is way from settled.
According to David Lindley, executive director of Designing Libraries, an increase in usage does follow renovation, sometimes by as much as 50%. Shaw writes that a main cause of this is the expanded usage space.
Les Watson, university library consultant and former pro vice-chancellor at Glasgow Caledonian University, believes how we feel inside a certain environment has a significant part to play in the way we work: “It\’s clear in my experience that the spaces in which we work and learn have both psychological and emotional impacts on use and also that learning is affected by our emotions and psyche so it seems feasible that better space can enhance learning performance. But there\’s no real evidence about what works and why to date.”
Watson continues: “Students are undoubtedly impacted by inspirational university buildings and libraries particularly have a great influence on the trustworthiness of the university and the ability from the university to attract prospective students. This is especially so within the era of annual national student satisfaction surveys.”