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LOEX2008: Panel on “The Future of Libraries in Higher Education”

Posted by comartslibrarian on May 3, 2008

Leslie Warren, moderator
Lisa Hinchliffe, Head of Undergraduate Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Dr. Annette Haggray, College of Dupage
Christopher Stewart, Dean of Libraries, Illinois Institute of Technology

How would libraries’ role within the academic community change within the next decade?

Haggray underscored the need for librarians to help students navigate the global information highway, and as facilitators to other faculty.

Stewart asked what will the value of a university be in 10 years? Referenced the Spellings Commission and the growing federal interest in undergraduate education, given declining quality, accountability and assessment. How can higher ed “get away” with tuition increases that are double the CPI (consumer price index)?

Hinchliffe questioned whether we have the courage to bring in new librarians who have innovative ideas, or whether we’ll drive them to other future-oriented professions.

Stewart pointed out that “for-profits” like University of Phoenix have approximately 300,000 students. They have some standards of efficiency that other schools should be examining. If libraries’ value doesn’t exist in your customers’ minds, you have done an effective job of marketing your value. Product, price, placement, promotion are key business principles of which product and promotion are key to library services.

What do you envision for reference collections and SPACE usage in the next 10 years?

Stewart points out the book publishing is going up, so the need for space for print collections is not diminishing. What is the library’s role in the future: as a communal space, a multi-use facility. People have a very powerful attachment to libraries as a place; it’s one of the few socially acceptable places to be alone!

Dr. Haggray pointed to the trend for more academic services to be co-located within the library, such as a University Writing Center.

Hinchliffe recommended Scott Bennett’s work — see libraryspaceplanning.com. UIUC students voted themselves a $200 IT/Library fee. The Undergraduate Library at UIUC is now open 24/5 from Sunday morning through Friday evening. New furniture, electrical upgrades (for laptops), updated signage were also purchased or implemented. Group study and “parallel play” or studying together is focused on the UGL’s first floor, quiet study space is located in the lower floor (with most of circulating collection). UGL is also buying more reference items in digital format, rather than buying books which serve as a nice photo “backdrop.” They decided that any book that hadn’t circulated in 5 years was moved to storage (UIUC does not “weed” or “deselect”), to reclaim seating space. If students aren’t coming in the building, they won’t be connected with the books, so study space takes precedence.

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