Although the new library building opening in 2012 will not be a space for books, the Brody Learning Commons is already impacting the uses of the “old” library building. Our offsite facility (the Libraries Service Center) is about 15 years old and so much of our collection is now “out there” that we are attempting to come to terms with just what should be in good old MSEL.
The whole question of books in libraries is a complex and increasingly controversial one. Almost every week it seems, some library or another announces that it’s getting rid of all its books, or moving them all to storage. Everything is online after all, isn’t it? The latest to follow this trend is Stanford’s engineering library. There’s also Cornell’s engineering library and Cushing Academy in Massachusetts; even our own Welch Medical Library is emphasizing online resources and moving most of their books. The “bookless library” – hmmm.
We are not looking to jettison our books just yet! But we are trying to decide exactly what books are needed on campus, in the library. Those of us in the humanities are used to the practice of browsing the stacks, to discover things serendipitously. Is this still a 21st century research strategy, or a myth?
We’d be pleased to hear from you, our patrons. What kinds of books do you need in the library? Contact your Subject Librarian, reply to this post, or, here’s a revolutionary idea – come into the library! Let’s talk about it.