Current Issues in College Libraries
by John Ruble
There is no shared facility more central to the purpose of a modern college or university than its library system. Whether as a collection of print materials, as an electronic database, or as a place of individual and group activities, the campus library provides a core of resources and services for learning and research that is vital to every discipline. Increasingly, academic libraries also serve a community of users beyond the campus, as information networks link them to a worldwide system of knowledge.
Campus libraries vary greatly in scale, program, and use, yet they all share a common set of design issues. By far, the most common campus library projects are additions and remodels, and it is easy to see why: the constant evolution of electronic systems of information storage and retrieval, the introduction of new patterns of use such as group study and seminar rooms, and the on-going expansion of collections of all kinds of materials make the modern campus library a hotbed of change.
Yet, of equal importance, a campus library is a historic institution, deeply rooted in the scholarly traditions of the university, with a critical part to play in representing the cultural meaning of the campus as a place.
Library Design Concerns
Campus libraries respond to a variety of needs, ranging from general student use to highly specialized support for individual departments and professional schools. Consequently, most campuses do not have a single facility, but a constellation of institutions, each with its own urgent requirements and its own accommodations. >>>
Discuss this article in the Architecture Forum...
This article is excerpted from College and University Facilities edited by David J. Neuman, with permission of the publisher, John Wiley & Sons.
The Science Library at the University of California, Irvine, designed by James Stirling, Michael Wilford and Associates, weaves reading areas into the periodicals collection.
Photo: Richard Bryant/ Arcaid, 1994
A simplified organizational diagram. The patterns of uses shows how movement sequence is essential to library planning.
Image: Courtesy John Wiley & Sons
Click on thumbnail images
to view full-size pictures.