University libraries are in a state of tumultuous change today. Technology has radically changed the way that librarians, students, and faculty think about searching for information. Mobile computing is on the rise, and scholarly communication and publication is becoming a much more open enterprise. Funding (or the lack thereof) has placed state universities in a precarious situation in regard to planning for the future and sustainability. Library spaces are evolving from solitary study areas surrounded by hundreds of thousands of books to collaborative spaces where print materials may be superseded in some cases by electronic resources. Most libraries now allow food and drink, and indeed, many libraries (including the Oviatt) contain coffee houses.
This is all very exciting to me, as well as somewhat anxiety-provoking. There are many challenges on the horizon for academic libraries, but many opportunities as well. We in the university community can rise to the occasion or we can be paralyzed by fear and misplaced caution. I hope that we will all choose to move forward.
The Oviatt Library is most certainly moving forward. We are embarking on a number of initiatives that will change the face of our facility and our services. Perhaps our most ambitious endeavor is our goal of building a new Learning Commons which is due to begin construction in June 2013. The Learning Commons, which will extend throughout the 1st floor of the Oviatt (including the Core and both Wings), will integrate the new skillsets of librarians with 21st century technologies; provide students with ergonomic, portable, and flexible furniture; create a light and open space; be food friendly; and facilitate a teaching and learning dynamic. I have high hopes for the Learning Commons as a new pedagogical and technological model for the 21st century academic library.
I welcome you to the Oviatt Library. While many changes are afoot, there are also many facets of the Library that adhere to traditional best practices and the symbolic Library of the past. One good example of this is the Robert Gohstand and Maureen Kelly Reading Room, which encourages a love for reading in a quiet, comfortable environment. Other quiet areas are also available throughout the Library, along with group study rooms and a variety of computer workstations. Whether you need to perform research in one of our many databases, watch a video, work with primary source materials, or simply need a quiet place to study, I hope you will find what you need in the Oviatt Library.
Mark Stover, Ph.D.
Dean, Oviatt Library