But Where Are the Books? as Academic Libraries Evolve beyond Information Storage, Institutions Turn to Space-Saving Automated Retrieval Systems

Article excerpt

SOME MIGHT QUESTION THE need for libraries, with so much now available online. But campus libraries have evolved into much more than information storage facilities, says Joseph Rizzo, an architect for RMJM Hillier. "Libraries are becoming part of the broader academic and social mission." Typical amenities now include quiet study spaces, meeting rooms, cafes, and even fireplaces. Rizzo's work on more than 80 library projects, especially those at universities, has revealed four "C's": celebratory welcome spaces, collaborative work places, communal experiences (e.g., the traditional "reading room"), and contemplative spaces.

The evolution of libraries to meet a range of needs leaves librarians in a quandary. If space must go toward so many things besides books, where is the ever-expanding print collection supposed to fit?

"A knee-jerk reaction of putting everything on single shelves seems indefensible," says Ron Danielson, vice provost for information services at Santa Clara University (Calif.). No one has the space for that.

"Shelving no longer drives planning," explained consultant Scott Bennett, principal of Urbana, Ill. …

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