It’s a summer of transition here at the academic library where I work. We’re beginning the slow process of partially transforming ourselves into a learning commons. It’s an oversimplification, but you can think of a learning commons as something of a 21st-century library—as social networking grows and seas of information available online become overwhelming, a learning commons (also sometimes called an information commons) represents a collaborative, digitally-oriented learning space. Gone is the stereotype of shushing librarians and dusty stacks; in its place are technology-savvy librarians helping to create information-literate users, whether they’re consuming that information from traditional (print) sources or the trickier world of Google and Beyond.
Of course, such a transition means that a lot of our more-traditional library structure has to be rethought. We’ve designated our ground floor as the upcoming center of our cool new learning commons, but much of that floor’s real estate is currently occupied by relics of the print era: bound periodicals. Lots of ’em.
It’s sad to see a lot of these go, especially since I spent my first few years here working exclusively with periodicals (and I tend to become bizarrely attached to inanimate objects). But some titles are simply too outdated to be useful (and not historically important enough to warrant keeping), while databases and online subscriptions have rendered many others unnecessary to retain in print.
Sad? Yes. But…
(Note: We aren’t getting rid of Life. I wouldn’t be able to handle it.)
Not all of our bound periodicals are being unceremoniously dumped, however, and we actually still maintain a sizable number of print subscriptions. Good for researchers, sure, but bad for the person in charge of periodicals when it comes time to shift the entire collection from one side of the main floor to the other (to make room for a new digital learning lab and group study rooms). Especially when I found out I had less than 2 hours to clear ’em out (in an organized fashion, of course; this is a library) so the shelving could be moved.
Fortunately I had the help of two generous student workers, and we managed the task in about an hour. And while we were able to maintain some semblance of order, it’s still just a bit of a mess.
As of this moment the shelves have officially been moved, and the space is really opening up out there. Next step: the moving of the microform cabinets. Stay tuned…