The Academic Library of the Future

There is little doubt that the role of the academic library is changing in the digital age. A recent feature on the future of libraries in the Guardian newspaper stated: ‘Academic libraries are changing faster than at any time in their history. Information technology, online databases and catalogues and digitised archives have put the library back at the heart of teaching and learning and academic research on campus’ (JISC, 2009).

Such media attention is welcome and raises the profile of libraries. Over the last decade huge strides have been made in the provision of and access to information by libraries. Most major journal publishers now provide their entire portfolio in digital format and the transition by libraries from printed journal holdings to electronic journals (e-journals) is rapid. The traditional journal package as we know it is also evolving. Blogs and wikis, links to research data, RSS feeds and online peer review are all becoming commonplace. Book publishers are catching up, and electronic books (e-books) are becoming an important element of library collections. Scholarly book publishers increasingly publish both print and electronic versions of their books, although this does not generally apply to textbooks. Amazon — a major player in the mass book market — is rapidly signing deals with publishers to make e-books available and providing access to readers via its Kindle e-book reader. If we also consider the huge amounts of older and rarer research materials being made available online by local and national digitization initiatives, the vast scale of the rich information resource available to scholars and researchers becomes apparent.

  • Reference Book: Woodward, H. M., & Estelle, L. (2010). Digital Information: Order Or Anarchy? Facet Publishing.

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