Last year I attended the Cornell Institute for Computer Policy and Law and while the institute was quite good, the only session of any note on academic libraries was lacking as it was more about preserving the existing order (and stereotypes) than exploring what really needs to change to ensure that academic libraries have any significant relevance in the future. So, I was very glad to see that this year’s session on academic libraries was much more progressive and forward looking.
In the session entitled The Future of the Academic Library: Space, Digitization, Access, and Curation in the New World of Information (available via streaming video), Susan Perry pointed out 10 major issues libraries need to consider as they plan and develop services. While the entire list of issues can be found at Tracy Mitrano’s post The Future of the Academic Library – Law, Policy — and IT? so I’ll emphasis just a few of the major points that I think are particularly cogent along with some of my own comments:
- Within ten years, most academic information will be available in digital format, so the need for space for collections really will markedly decrease;
- Librarians today need to be: intellectually curious, collaborative, technologically sophisticated, good teachers, and adaptable because things are changing to quickly to not be all of these things;
- While the Open Source movement is making many learning materials and computer applications freely available, maintenance of the applications requires staff. It is completely unreasonable to think you can build an infrastructure based on open-source without developing the necessary skills within your staff to maintain these applications;
- Digital asset management and production is the name of the game for the archives of the future;
- Helping students find and evaluate accurate information is probably the most important roles for librarians now. In order to do this librarians, instructional technologists, as well as faculty, must work together.