21st-century academic libraries

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TERESITA TANHUECO-TUMAPON

Part 1
THERE are three types of libraries—public libraries, special libraries and academic libraries. Some academic libraries do have special libraries. A simple special library would start with a “corner” in an academic library, such as a corner on American Studies, or of Japanese Literature in English, or of the Thomasites, or the Filipino “zarzuela”(the traditional Filipino theater) etc., or some other special collections. We would recall that as students, it was in these hallowed halls of the university library that we spent most of our study hours to catch up with the assigned capstones for our respective subjects. We must have used, too, a “special corner,” as when I wrote about the haiku. How is the academic library today?

How universities behave, influence libraries. We in academe would have taken note of the creeping changes in today’s libraries. With digital technology as a popular learning tool, academic libraries have dropped age-old ways to cope with learning schemes of today’s generation. Digital resources are expanded, making available fast internet services. Ready assistance, often, one on one, is provided to support the development of students’ digital capabilities for easy access to online references. Digital referencing, once only through email, have greatly improved its accessibility, creating collaboration among references providers. Indeed, libraries could be described as networks of expertise. It is likely, that at present, all Philippine academic libraries use the Open Public Access Catalogue (OPAC) and are increasing both their subscribed and open access resources. This responds to the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) mandate for higher education institutions (HEIs) to do more and improve quality of research, foster this research culture in their academics and train students in research, as well.

Reconfiguring space. A consequent change in the modern library is its architecture. The new use of space for virtual and actual learning calls for a new architecture—to reconfigure bookshelves and furniture arrangement, solo carrels, discarding duplicates to gain more space. Academics and their students now “search for information from their desktop; users download e-books onto their PDAs; full-text retrieval of information sources is becoming commonplace; and services are increasingly becoming personalized and pay-as-you-use.” <http://rizal.lib.admu.edu.ph/rlconflibmgt/PDF /singh.pdf>. Installed movable panels conveniently facilitate preparing meeting rooms for short sessions with invited research experts. Virtual sessions make use of video-conferencing or web-camera services—a normal mode of instruction in modern-day academe. These necessitate some provision for appropriate space, digital equipment and amenities such as a lounge for midday breaks, a corner to brew coffee, a viewing room equipped with well-positioned electric outlets, desktop computers, laptops, printers, LCDs, document cameras, scanners, photocopiers, etc. These constitute the features in the changing architecture of libraries. <http://librarysciencedegree.usc.edu/resources/ articles-and-blogs/the-changing-face-of-modern-libraries/>

What do librarians in offshore universities say? “What we’re seeing is not less use of the library by our staff and students, but changing needs of users,” says University of Manchester librarian Janet Wilkinson. ”Students continue to need study space, but their expectations are different. They want us to provide roomy group space to support new ways of learning, silent areas for when they are revising, relaxation areas and cafés to allow them to spend long hours in the building. More than anything else (or so it sometimes seems) they want easy access to power to recharge their growing numbers of mobile devices, and very good wifi. <https://www.the guardian.com › Higher Education Network › Learning and teaching>At New York University, the dean of library, Carol Mandel, points out that, “Well-designed space is one of the most important services an academic library can offer.” She further notes that “the most important challenge (today) is to ensure enduring access to digital information. Intellectual productivity and successful learning are the engines of a research university, and well-designed library spaces fuel that engine.” Consequently, “the single most important challenge that all research libraries face is to ensure enduring access to digital information – information that can disappear as quickly as it appears.” Thus at NYU, “an internationally diverse community of students and faculty circulate easily and productively throughout a rich network of sites, portal campuses, and research institutes around the world,” Mandel says. This vision, she adds, “drives our global library service objective: a seamless library experience at all of our sites.”<https://www.theguardian.com › Higher Education Network › International>


The Philippine Association of Academic and Research Libraries (PAARL). PAARL holds regular administrative and continuing professional development (CPD) conferences. As in other climes, the Association suggests to have the university librarian, who should have at least a master’s degree in library science, be given academic status (that is, like any teaching or research faculty member) and therefore is due an academic rank.<http://www.dlsu.edu.ph/library/paarl/pdf/standards/standards2000.pdf> (similar to guidance counsellors and the university registrar—as academic support staff, provided they have a master’s degree, they are due an academic rank.)

The academic library of the future. In a paper on Reference Services in the Digital Age, Dr. Diljit Singh, Faculty of Computer Science & Information Technology, University of Malaya, concludes that the “often secondary role of reference services” will have “a more prominent role …where the services provided are attractive, effective, evaluated, marketed, integrated, professional, institutionalized, value-based, and appropriate (Janes, 2002).” All these demands for library services considered, librarians have to sustain their continuing professional development (CPD). (For the whole paper, please refer to “Conference on Library Management in the 21st Century” at the Ateneo de Manila University, Philippines, March 29-30, 2004.) <http://rizal.lib.admu.edu.ph/rlconflibmgt /PDFn/ singh.pdf> (30)

Email: ttumapon@liceo.edu.ph

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