Sunday, March 05, 2006
The Capital Times has a story on how UW libraries have been transformed into "the academic equivalent of the student union" through the addition of cafes, computer terminals, and lounge-like study areas. My friends in Library Science tell me this is the "library as place" concept. I'm not sure all these changes belong in the same category, as computers are certainly a critical tool for modern researchers, especially in the sciences. However, the concept of what a college library would be like has definitely changed. As the libraries have evolved, more people are now using them, and I certainly think there's nothing wrong with having a comfortable academic working environment as an inherent part of the same facility where students obtain educational materials. What is most likely to create controversy is when books are removed from the shelves; here; however, one has to trust the professionals one hires to make decisions about what best serves the libraries' mission to serve as a center for research materials.