The Tech Revolution And College Libraries
If you haven’t been into a college library recently, you may still have an image in your mind that isn’t quite correct anymore—strict rules on food and drink, massive shelves of books, and the sounds of scribbling pens and turning pages echoing throughout the library. While there are still plenty of books and areas for quiet contemplation, today’s college library is undergoing a transformation that leaves those old images firmly in the past.
What’s happened is that we’ve crossed from information scarcity—with libraries as gatekeepers to vast stores of knowledge—to an age of information overload. But the vast amount of digital information isn’t making libraries and librarians obsolete, it’s simply changing the roles they play on the college campus.
Walk into most college libraries today, and you’ll find well-lit, wide open areas dotted with computers, tables, and energetic students. The floor plans have changed, especially on the first floors. Explore a little further and you’ll find additions of cafes, collaborative spaces, and quiet study rooms equipped with the latest tech.
What you may not see are the hallowed stacks, rising up on every floor. Libraries have begun to adapt not just to the digital age, but to changing study habits and preferences for experimentation and collaboration. What we’ve seen is that libraries on campuses across the nation are doing their best to remain a hub of student activity and creation—even as physical books become less important to students.
And that has inevitably created some tension. This is a massive shift from the way it was done for hundreds of years to a new system that has very nearly turned things on their head. In some instances this push has been descried by librarians as coming too quickly, and with what they see as too great a price when it comes to the library’s role on campus.
But when administrators work with librarians, students, faculty, and IT, the fruits of those collaborations can be quite astonishing.
For instance, Ringling College of Art and Design recently opened their brand new, $18 million Alfred R. Goldstein Library—a library built with technology at the center of its mission, and packed full of collaborative and experiential opportunities for students. That includes a 24-hour computer lab, a digital presentation system, and a state-of-the-art wireless network to fully support all of the tools and tech being used on a daily basis.
And that’s really what the revolution in college libraries is all about—adapting to the changing needs and perceptions of students. As hard as it may be to draw our focus away from traditional library structures, there is a way forward that uses the best of our new technology, without losing the emphasis on learning and personal growth.
The library isn’t the only part of the college campus that’s changing these days, but it certainly is drawing a lot of attention. Different aspects of campus life are adapting to a digital world, and higher ed institutions are now recognizing the need for seamless, secure integration of the many different apps and systems that are currently running on campus, or soon will be. If your school could use a powerful integration platform on campus, then give N2N Services a call today.