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Reimagining the Academic Library by David Lewis

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Reimagining the Academic Library by David Lewis 

London, Rowman & Littlefield 2016



"In the past several decades, the "adjacent possible" for academic libraries has expanded immensely. Technological developments abound and new ways of thinking about ways of ordering operations, from user-driven acquisitions to open access, make it possible for us to occupy this new space with new ways of thinking about and providing library services. At a conceptual level this is why now is the time to reimagine the academic library" (xv). 


"The reimagining of the academic library I will propose is at its core quite simple. I will propose that the role of the academic library will flip. In the past a university's library has been primarily a means of bringing knowledge from the outside world into the university so that students and faculty can apply the world's knowledge to their studies, scholarship, and research. In the digital world the library will become primarily a means for providing access to and preserving the knowledge created in and by the university so that this knowledge is available to everyone else in the world" (xv-xvi). 


"I will propose that libraries have an important role to play in the coming reconfiguration of the knowledge ecosystem. This role will still be at its core about collecting and collections and the skills and capacities libraries and librarians possess will be of great value to colleges and universities. However, what is collected, why it is collected, and the benefits of the collection will change. If libraries fail to take on the new roles, others will step forward to do so" (xvii). 



"We can see this process play out for libraries as quality content moved to the web. There was once a time when students needed to go to the library to get the resources needed to complete their assignments. It was the only source of high-quality academic content available to them. Even though it was initially designed as a means to share research results, in the beginning the web did not have enough high-quality academic information to meet anyone's needs. But as is the usual case, the web improved and more high-quality content could be found there. Soon it had enough good academic content for undergraduate students writing short papers. When this happened undergraduates began to prefer the web, It did not matter that the library had much more high-quality academic content than the web because undergraduates did not need this additional content. They became overshot customers and the basis of competition shifted. What mattered now was that the web was easier and more convenient to use and that the web was available at 2:00 a.m. As more academic content moved to the web and it continued to develop, more demanding customers found that they could meet their needs by using the web and they followed the freshman in preferring the web over the library. The library was no match for the web when the basis of competition was ease of use and 24/7 availability and thus the library in many circumstances lost many users to the web. What we see today is not that the library has lost all of its users to the web, rather we are in the midst of a process in which the library unlikely to prevail as the primary provider of academic content" (6). 


Ten things to do now

"1. Retire the Legacy Print Collection" (155)

He suggest regional coordination of collections in order to open up resources for other effors. 


"2. Develop a Space Plan" (155)

Space is an advantage the libraries have. We need to use it. 


"3. Have a Materials Budget Strategy to Manage the Transition from Traditional Publishing Models to Open Access" (155)

He sees open access taking center stage in the next 20 years. Need financial support for this. 


"4. Support the Creation of, Access to, and Preservation of the Scholarly Content Created on Your Campus" (156)

The "critical pivot" is to develop staff expertise and infrastructure to manage content made at home. 


"5. Commit to the Special Collections Your Library Will Support and Make the Required Investments" (156)

The unique items a library holds will be another advantage


"6. Infuse the Curriculum with the Skills Necessary to Create and Consume Information Productively" (156)

Focus on learning, assessment, instructional design and information literacy remain important. 


"7. Understand the Demographics of Your Organization and Have a Plan to Hire or Develop the Expertise the Library Will Need" (157)


"8. Get the Culture Right" (157) 

Need an organizational culture that can handle change and innovation. 


"9. Support the Development and Sustainability of Network-Level Tools and Services" (158)

He calls for a network between libraries that helps to move resources and systems where they are needed. 


"10. Sell the Change" (158)


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