We all know the 3 most important attributes when it comes to real estate: location, location, location.
Higher education offices are just another form of real estate. And the most valuable real estate on campus is in the library.
For the last few years I’ve had the extraordinary good fortune of having my office in the Library. Our Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), which at my institution is called the Center for Advancement of Learning (DCAL), is located in the main Library.
There is little doubt, at least on my campus, that you can’t beat a library address. The library is the intellectual, social, and geographic heart of campus.
The best of higher education can be found in our academic libraries.
Today, academic libraries are both physical and digital spaces. As a digital learning person, I care greatly about the services and resources available via browsers and phones - and which can be accessed from anywhere in the world at any time. A robust digital library presence is the enabler of our online learning revolution.
As a digital learning evangelist, I am constantly amazed at the value of the physicality of the academic library. What happens in academic libraries is difficult to achieve virtually. These are places that offer space for collaboration and for focused individual work. How many physical spaces do we have left beyond libraries that are distraction free? That are quiet?
What the academic library does is combine a space to go with an ecosystem that is purpose built for learning and knowledge creation. An academic library would be an empty shell without academic librarians.
The professionals that work with students, faculty, and staff to advance learning and research is what elevates the academic library beyond a building. I know of no other profession where people and space are so highly integrated. Where the presence of one adds so much value to the existence of the other.
This all brings me back to the value of a library address.
There is very little argument (that I know about) that the academic library is the best place to be on campus. The place with the most action. The place where students and faculty go to do their work. The space where the culture of the institution is made solid, tangible, and visible.
The reality is that there is only so much space in the library. Academic libraries cannot endlessly expand to accommodate all the groups, units, and people who want to be in the room (or the building) where it happens.
I’m wondering how academic librarians feel about the newcomers to their neighborhoods?
What are the discussions within the academic library community about demands for non-librarians to have a library address?
Is the footprint of academic libraries growing to accommodate the growing desire of more and more academic units to be located the library?
How much does the presence of a highly desirable physical library drive institutional decisions about which units should be under the library umbrella?
It seems wonderful that more and more classrooms, maker spaces, collaborative study rooms, media creation areas, learning design units, and CTLs - as well as much else - are being located in academic libraries. But what is being displaced to accommodate all these new functions and groups? What is being lost?
How do academic librarians think about their own valuable real estate?