|Today’s academic libraries enhance community, facilitate
learning, harness emerging technologies for access to information and
centralize resources that define the quick-paced Information Age. This
is undoubtedly why, “Architects in communities everywhere find
themselves in the midst of a library building boom…. [The library] is
not simply enjoying a renaissance but undergoing a radical
SU Strategic Plan 2004-2008: “Provide resources, including a new
facility and an enhanced operating budget, to make the library a focal
point of learning, scholarship, interaction and invention among
students, faculty and staff.”
SU Revised Mission Statement: “A high priority in the Facilities
Master Plan, a future library will be a hub for academic discussion and
discovery and will blend space for public events, community outreach,
quiet study, research assistance, specialized materials and local
archives, and the creation of digital publications.”
Rather than being obsolete, library buildings are now transforming
They are the only facility on campus that integrates the university’s
most prized, costly, and prestigious resources:
print resources, including manuscripts, maps, original primary materials,
artifacts, and vast secondary resources too costly to ever be fully digitized
research instruction and information expertise
They provide an array of work spaces students need outside
of the classroom to work together collaboratively on academic
group study areas of varying sizes for discussions
different sized spaces for interactive, joint computer use
a variety of technology areas for media production and presentations
They provide a shared and safe academic space accessible for long
periods of time that provides a academic context for:
quiet study and reflection
exhibits, including art exhibits
They provide clearly identifiable, easily accessible
service space that serves all academic departments:
student academic enrichment programs
undergraduate research programs (Architect, Carole Wedge: “In the
last 10 years, the curriculum has become much more 'engaged,' with
students doing original research and collaborating with other
publication offices for scholarly university journals
art galleries and exhibit space
They provide ideal centers for special conferences and events, and
routinely include coffee shops, sometimes cafeterias.
They create a comfortable, hospitable but academic environment that
facilitates faculty/student interaction and brings people together: At
Dartmouth, the library is referred to as the café with books.
They provide a convenient bridge between academic and local
communities, a concept that includes sharing a facility (Nova
University, San Jose) to sharing programs, e.g.children’s reading
programs, community literacy, professional staff development, and
community health education or business outreach.
They provide space for specialized academic resources and
technologies (accordingly, it is not uncommon to consolidate staffing for IT
and libraries in the same facility):
digital map centers
satellite feeds for special events, telecasts
information literacy commons
specialized electronic classrooms
faculty development areas
They provide a central shared academic space for faculty
independent research (faculty carrels)
They provide space and appropriate care and security for important
university records (institutional archives.
They provide space for specialized collections/activities that have
significant outreach components to all research communities, such as Edward
H. Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History and Culture.
They provide ceremonial spaces such as Rare Book Rooms for Friends
of the Library and external support groups.
They provide a central location where faculty can work with
information specialists to collaboratively redesign student research
They provide space, staff, and services for understanding how to
access and use electronic resources effectively.
Sixty percent of U.S. college students couldn’t tell the difference
between web sites with or without advertising (OCLC White Paper on the
Information Habits of College Students (Dublin, OH: 2001): 4.)
They provide space for book collections. This need remains vital:
Librarian of Congress James H. Billington notes: “People think everything
goes on to the Internet these days, but the amount of print material is
increasing by 7 percent a year.” 3
The main reasons for building or renovating academic libraries
between 1995 and 2002 was to:
increase building size
increase wired network connections and provide more computers
expand general seating capacity
provide network access from seating
increase collection shelving capacity
The researcher conducting the survey (357, 179 responding) also noted
that “the library is becoming a more complex facility, one that…attracts
students for multiple purposes….” 4
Blackwell Library is unable to fulfill a library’s traditional role
let alone assume new ones.
there is no sprinkler system to protect the more than
254,000 bound volumes and other resources
there is seating for only 7 percent of the recommended 20 percent
recommended by the American Library Association 5
there are no classrooms, a critical need for undergraduate research classes
and for faculty who want to integrate library resources into the fabric of
the absence of flexible, group study spaces inhibits the curriculum. The
library’s, two 10-12 person group rooms,’ cannot provide the space needed to
support collaborative assignments.
there is almost no space to house media and no spaces for viewing it,
inhibiting support for film and other students with media assignments
in more than one instance, three library faculty share a single office
space, negatively affecting efficiency and internal/external faculty
limited port availability and space results in students waiting in line to
use computers, even though wireless laptops are lent
collection fragmentation impedes student research. The Edward H. Nabb Center
for Delmarva History and Culture holds original documents, but a large number of
related materials, including early newspapers on microfilm are in the library,
forcing students to do their work piecemeal
cramped, inadequate conditions at the Nabb Center and the absence of
central, specialized environmental controls limit the ability to acquire new
materials, provide safety for existing materials, or hold classes there easily.
Classes are held in an open reading room, while others simultaneously try to do
research. Mold has been found in the archival materials.
holding events in the library requires closing the building (author
readings, faculty events, Nabb Center workshops, events for potential and proven
a full staff meeting cannot be held (space isn’t available)
there are no public restrooms on the main floor
Ultimately, the inability to seat sufficient students and provide
the spaces and resources that they need for serious undergraduate
study limits the institution’s ability to increase enrollments and
frustrates the institution’s mission “to cultivate and sustain a
superior, student centered learning community….”
The main academic goal in the Salisbury University 2004-2008
Strategic Plan— “to enhance an academic and learning environment
that promotes intellectual growth and success”— identifies the
library as “a focal point of learning, scholarship, interaction and
invention among students, faculty and staff.” Clearly, the present
library facility, with all the constraints that it imposes on
learning, teaching, and collaboration, cannot fulfill this planned
expectation. The need for a communal, yet technologically active
academic space is particularly important at an institution with an
expanding undergraduate research program. For these students
learning and place are synonymous.
A new library at Salisbury University would create a collaborative
whole and build a better future for the entire academic community.
While classrooms are academic places, only one learning activity
takes place in them. The library, by contrast, is a full learning
center for a university and a benefit to the larger community that
References to relevant articles:
Morris, Jeff. "The College Library in the New Age." University
Business, 5 #8, (Oct. 2002): 26+.
Bahr, Alice. “Library buildings in a Digital Age, Why Bother?”
College & Research Libraries News, 61 #7 (July/Aug. 2000): 590+.
1Abagail VanSlyck, “A New Chapter,” Architectural Record
(Oct. 2000): 151.
2Jeff Morris, “The College Library in the New Age,”
University Business (October, 2002):28.
3Carl Hartman, “Md. fort to aid overcrowded Library of
The Daily Times (31 Aug. 2003): B6.
4Harold B. Shill and Shawn Tonner, “Creating a Better
Place: Physical Improvements in Academic Libraries, 1995-2002,”
College & Research Libraries, 64, 6 (November, 2003): 458.
5American Library Association standards recommend seating
for 20 percent of the FTE student body on a campus that is less than 50
percent residential. In 2004, that would have meant 1,230 seats for the
University’s approximately 6,150 students. Only 444, or 7 percent, are