As academic knowledge digitalizes, the libaries keep pace or even make the pace. The Higher Education Network of my old employer, The Guardian, has an interesting special on the future of libraries. Claire Shaw and her colleagues have done excellent work! I thought I quickly share some of the findings I came across. To sum it up: while all those libraries define their role quite differently, one thing is certain: digital technology is getting more and more important. This is what their plans are:

Nigeria pushes knowledge with electronic resources: The American University of Nigeria shows how technology can help to unlock knowledge – with the use of Open Access resources, as its director explicitly says. They train their stuff in using the technology and getting Open Access material. With an interesting outcome:
Total usage of ebooks: 2011: 1,889 / 2012: 45,442
Total usage of books 2011: 16,185 / 2012: 8,892

Oxford helps researches with OA: In Oxford, where the library supports the research community as much as the students, staff keeps academics up to date with Open Access, but finds it “difficult to keep track of the funds given to support”. They are also asked to archive a weblog or help with a data visualization. Lovely service!

5 CultureLibrary

Australia is the university’s international flagship, or a publishing house: At the Queensland University of Technology in Australia, the library transforms from a host for books for the campus into the distributer that is pushing the university’s research into the world. Director Judy Stokker: “In 2013 we celebrated 10m downloads. With 97% of downloads coming from outside Australia, we can safely claim that the repository has been successful in opening up the university’s research to the world.” Impressive.

Brasil has a decreased use of the printed collection by 35% over the past three years.

Tokio helps students with the entire information universe, not just library managed and subscribed content.

And why do they all look so good? Finally, there is a reason why all : new libraries need to look as shiny as your new electronic device. Because this is really what they compete with. But I agree with the remarks of university library consultant Les Watson: “… learning is affected by our emotions and psyche so it seems feasible that better space can enhance learning performance.” I find this true. Reading academic work in a room that gives them the grandezza to unfold and pushes us to stay with tricky material helps.

PS: Yes, that is a picture I once sketched for a lecture in which I explained the digitalization of culture.

Mercedes Bunz


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