Library Renovations: Pedagogy as driver?

I spotted an interesting blog post about what drives the physical shape of academic library renovations. Here at ASU, Hayden Library has completed the first phase of a major library renovation. The sub-basement of Hayden has been partially emptied of its stacks and refitted with futuristic computer classrooms and group study spaces.


Hayden Library’s sub-basement, renovation mostly completed (from ASU Libraries)

Hayden Library is far from alone in launching a major renovation of an academic libraries. Across the world, academic libraries are fighting to justify their existence and negotiate continued occupancy of their physical space. An article at The Guardian this month outlines what’s behind the drive to renovate:

“Pedagogy is the driver for the changes in library design,” says Ann Rossiter, director of the Society of College, National and University Libraries – “changes to the way undergraduates are expected to study, for example, including more social spaces, more social learning and group learning. The way that library buildings are changing is designed to reflect that.”

Academic libraries are thus being repositioned as active “learning spaces” rather than static repositories of information. This trend is several years in the making, and I imagine that only our children will be able to report on the full effects of transformation. Change is always hard, but when it comes to physically re-imagining what many consider sacred ground, emotions can run high.

“The academic library has died,” wrote Brian Sullivan, librarian at Alfred University, in an opinion piece responding to the gloomy tone of a 2011 report on the future of academic libraries. “One reason for cause of death is that library buildings were converted into computer labs, study spaces and headquarters for informational-technology departments.”

Classes just started last Thursday at ASU, so not much word yet on how the lower level classrooms are working out.

How about your library? How has your library been transformed? Any plans for renovation?

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