Academic libraries have long shown the signs of digital transformation. The card catalogue was the first old friend to leave the building. Online resources have grown exponentially. Millions of unused books are being removed from active holdings. A wave of construction is transforming academic libraries into vibrant hubs of campus activity and community – no longer cul-de-sacs of paper.
Often lost in the glitzy stories of architecture, trendy furniture and high tech gadgetry are the leaders and the ideas that are at the heart of the transformation. Now on the stage are Lee Van Orsel and a generation of academic librarians leading and sometimes pulling their organizations and institutions into a future that is both physical and digital. They share a passion for the reinvention of libraries for people not paper, for access not control.
Lee and I talked at the Re-think It: Libraries for a New Age Conference at Grand Valley State University. Hers is a story of mission before place, changing academic culture before changing architecture and throughout serving to the needs of students and faculty. There are lessons here for all campus planners and designers.
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