Last month I reported on the first discussion we had regarding planning the future of the library. We’ve now had two conversations, including a great discussion about spaces in the library. Last week, a new report came out that is particularly relevant to these discussions. The New Media Center Horizon Report 2017 Library Edition was released during the ACRL (Association of College and Research Libraries) 2017 biennial meeting in Baltimore that ended Saturday, March 25th. The Horizon Report provides a guide to what is on the horizon for the next five years for academic and research libraries, broken down into “six key trends, six significant challenges, and six developments in technology.” One of the key trends is “Patrons as Creators” and is seen as a driving force for the next three to five years. This is a trend our librarians have actively been involved in for some time as we have emphasized our role in helping our community members create content rather than just consume. This has informed our work with open access, information literacy, our institutional repository that allows us to showcase works and journals produced by our students, and our more recent efforts to create more welcoming spaces in the library that would allow students to do more with their hands as well as with their minds.
The Horizon Report mentions a recent survey of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) “revealed that 64% of responding libraries in North America are engaged in providing, planning, or piloting makerspace services.” [p.14] The increase in makerspaces in academic libraries, mirrors the growth in public libraries as well. This growth is partially a response to what is seen as a social movement, but it also integrates with the services all types of libraries offer. For us, a makerspace meshes well with our academic programs that increasingly emphasize the interdisciplinary connections between various disciplines. It also is timely in terms of the growing interest in the Digital Liberal Arts on our campus. The Horizon Report helps articulate some of the concepts we have been focused on as we prepare for creating new spaces on the second level of the library. We have been exploring makerspaces in the library for several years, but it was just this year in January that an opportunity presented itself to help us develop such spaces for innovation and creation. As with many of the things we do, this is very much a collaborative effort.
This new initiative involves many different pieces, including space for innovation in teaching, more group work spaces, spaces for crafts as well as coding, and also an opportunity to collaborate with entrepreneurship on campus. We see this as an opportunity to help us expand services for students and also create new spaces to foster creativity and innovation. At the same time, the book remains central to what we are as a library. The Children’s collection and the Rare Books Room will remain on level 2, while the books currently on level 2 stacks will move upstairs one level, or downstairs to the lower level depending on size and content. If you want to know more or participate in conversations, we have more sessions scheduled in the coming weeks. You can read more about our plan and open discussions on our library web page as well as on our LibGuide Planning the Future of the Library. You may contribute your thoughts on a feedback form, but I think most of our community members will benefit by coming and discussing in person how this new initiative will provide them with new spaces to become creators, not just consumers.