Chaning face of Academic Libraries

The Guardian has a very interesting article on academic libraries called: Academic Libraries are Undergoing a Quiet Revolution. Although the focus is on academic libraries in the UK, this article is also of true academic libraries here in the United States.

Academic libraries work as part of the larger unit that they fall under, a university or college. As universities change focus, budgets change, more consortium or consortium-like opportunities arise, or students and study habits begin to differ, academic libraries undergo profound modifications. As the article highlights, the largest and most reaching change has been technology.

This is not the only difference that sets academic libraries of today apart from their historic counterparts.  This has meant and means how academic libraries function and how they are structured. Academic libraries’ focus is not so much books and a love for and of books. Academic libraries strive to meet the needs of their users, which entails an emphasis to bring excellent customer server to library these many different types of users. More frequently, this customer service is making sure online resources are available as well as various and inviting teaching services in the library. This involves anything from the electronic journals, study guides, reference by text message to the learning commons and an expert friendly staff. Academic libraries have floors that now allow for noise. Many allow food and drink into certain areas. Though books are not absent, study rooms with equipment to prepare presentations can be found. Many academic libraries have working relationships with local libraries. Some create digital libraries showcasing the history of the area where the university is located.

These are but a few examples. The point is that this level of customer service and technology requires a lot of staff who are knowledgeable, flexible, and quick to learn in an environment that is rapidly changing.

Though the changes are definitely good in terms of providing for users of all types, I found that the article did not mention how academic librarians are coping with these changes and what is being asked of them on a daily basis. In addition, this article did not address the inequalities between those individuals who are well off in the more snazzier library jobs (systems, administration, marketing directors,…) and those who do their work every day without being noticed. Hopefully these changes will recognize the work done by academic librarians both professional and paraprofessional.

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