Inside Higher Ed writes that, Daniel Greenstein, vice provost for academic planning and programs at the University of California System predicts:
The university library of the future will be sparsely staffed, highly decentralized, and have a physical plant consisting of little more than special collections and study areas.
Particularly over the past decade, librarians have shown considerable futures thinking into what their institutions might become. One visible example is the Minneapolis Central Library, designed by Cesar Pelli. The building is designed not only to be more green and sustainable, but also to be converted into a structure that can serve a different purpose. The floors, for example, are removable and reconfigurable, allowing the library to adapt to needs and purposes that do not yet exist.
So, it comes as no surprise that Ithaka hosted a talk on sustainability and the future of university libraries –likely creating some unease among librarians. Inside Higher Ed elaborates more on Greenstein’s vision:
“We’re already starting to see a move on the part of university libraries… to outsource virtually all the services [they have] developed and maintained over the years,” Greenstein said. Now, with universities everywhere still ailing from last year’s economic meltdown, administrators are more likely than ever to explore the dramatic restructuring of library operations.
Within the decade, he said, groups of universities will have shared print and digital repositories where they store books they no longer care to manage. “There are national discussions about how and to what extent we can begin to collaborate institutionally to share the cost of storing and managing books,” he said. “That trend should keeping continuing as capital funding is scarce, as space constraints are severe, especially on urban campuses — and, frankly, as funding needs to flow into other aspects of the academic program.”