Three ways the library's role on campus is changing

Libraries are paving way for big data, ALA president says

American Library Association President Sari Feldman talks about collaboration, the virtual sphere, and Twitter in an interview with Jeffrey Young for the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Feldman says that campus libraries "are going through this incredible transformation," where community members can use the traditional resources of a library while being able to collaborate and create new digital content.

Here are a few takeaways from their conversation.

It's not just about books. The library is becoming a place for collaboration, where students and faculty can use platforms to research and create their own content, Feldman says. Young references Harvard University, where the Widener Library recently built a production facility for students and staff to create courseware. "Academic libraries are less about what they have for people," Feldman says. "They're more about what they do for and with people."

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Libraries are becoming more outward-facing. As Young points out, the concept of a physical library may seem dated when many activities are moving to the virtual sphere. To accommodate this shift, Feldman says libraries are becoming "embedded in class content in a way they never were before," in an attempt to better understand and serve the needs of the community.

But don't count out the physical library yet. Feldman says it's become "a place for people to come together around inquiry and creation ... we're seeing a lot of revitalized space and energy in the library."

Paving the way for big data. While it's easy to think of libraries as historic—and traditional—institutions, Feldman points out that libraries are leading the way in managing data and virtual information. At Syracuse University, the university is collecting and analyzing social media surrounding the 2016 presidential campaign, while George Washington University is attempting to collect data surrounding the impact of Twitter.

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"We're managing a very new form of information," Feldman says, "and we have great tools to present it to the broader community. So that's pretty exciting" (Young, Chronicle of Higher Education, 11/25).

Thoughts on the story? Tweet us at @eab_daily and let us know.

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