3 Reasons Why University Libraries Still Matter
- September 2, 2021
- Anthony Bowie
Author: Dr. Christina Counts
Universities have had to innovate to meet student expectations and school needs, and university libraries and learning spaces play a central role. Librarians have been at the forefront of a shift in the usage of university libraries, reimagining libraries to accommodate new technologies, expanded media sources, and multi-use spaces for students to learn, study, and socialize.
As university libraries adapt to this educational shift, they must implement functional changes in library design that acknowledge huge advances in technology, changing functions of library space, and new ways students want to learn and work. These future-ready libraries are able to respond to these changes to meet student, educator, and librarian needs, retaining their role as the research center of the university while supporting emerging school and student demands, as well.
According to The Future of Jobs Report 2020 from the World Economic Forum, the primary driver of change in business is the evolution of flexible working environments. Most companies use teams of employees to accomplish work tasks, which requires a significant amount of collaborative work. A need for collaborative workspaces and innovative working environments has led to more flexible offices and massive technology adoption by businesses, education and government. To prepare students for professional careers, university libraries are also taking these flexibility needs and adoption of new technology into account when designing library spaces.
Despite the shift to digital learning and a decline in print circulation, library usage has expanded significantly, reflecting its importance for teaching, learning, and research in the digital age. University libraries maintain their standing as a central hub for focused study, dynamic collaborations, creativity, and more. As methods and sources of research and scholarship shift, academic libraries must learn how to support new fields and accommodate space for flexible purposes, including quiet studying, group collaboration, technology access, research space, and many other functions to meet the changing needs of today’s students.
University libraries not only support productivity and provide access to learning resources, but also function as spaces for gathering and socialization. These libraries are evolving into “third spaces,” which is the idea that there is an environment other than home (first space) and work or school (second space) where people gather. Research demonstrates that environment affects mood and behavior, which means that physical spaces have a direct impact on how we learn, think, feel, and act. This is important in the creation and design of university libraries as a “third space” because environments that evoke an emotional connection help to build a sense of community and attachment, leading to more positive effects on mood and behavior within that environment.
University libraries will always be a crucial part of learning, collaboration, and community at schools. While the traditional role of university libraries has changed, modern libraries are adapting to the new needs of students, educators, faculty, and librarians. As these spaces evolve, we will also see a shift in the way the physical environments in libraries are designed in order to meet these new requirements.
To learn more about how university libraries are adapting to meet ever-changing university needs, view the white paper: Do School Libraries Still Matter?
Dr. Christina Counts, VP of Strategy and Development for MiEN Environments, is a proven leader with a successful background in transforming learning spaces to modern engaging learning environments. Dr. Counts has worked in education for over 17 years with experience as a classroom teacher, district instructional leader, school administrator, and digital and innovative learning designer. In her most recent position, Christina leads a team of professionals that support schools making the transition to a flexible, collaborative, & student-centered learning space. She holds a doctorate in K-12 Educational Leadership, National Board-certified, and Google & Apple certified. Dr. Counts envisions a learning space in which educators are empowered to transform education through design, technology and innovative instructional pedagogy to create learners ready for any future!