Magazine article Computers in Libraries

Imagining the Learning Library

Magazine article Computers in Libraries

Imagining the Learning Library

Article excerpt

Questions such as "What would a learning library look like, offer, and be?" and "How do physical environments convey our mission?" were among those addressed during the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) president's program at the recent American Library Association Annual Conference in San Francisco. The panel of speakers explored how a compelling vision of the academic library can be brought to life for librarians, students, faculty, and researchers.

Betsy Baker, Northwestern University's head of reference services, identified the lack of consensus on what a library is and should be doing as the major challenge. She stressed the need to find a clear and unifying "story" for the library-a compelling and unifying framework that would direct the design of buildings and landscapes to convey messages to the library's user community.

Peggy Van Pelt, Walt Disney Imagineering's creative resources advisor, said that the learning library must assist its users in discovering the natural learner in themselves. "Community is as much an attitude as it is a place," she said, but cautioned that "It is easier to maintain a place than to nurture an attitude."

Barry Braverman, senior vice president/executive producer at Imagineering, found similarities between libraries and theme parks, to the delight of the audience. Both are facing pressure to reinvent themselves, both face stiff competition for users' time and attention, and both represent sanctuaries apart from the everyday world. …

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