Last week I had the opportunity to give a presentation to the University of Regina Board of Governors focused on the Archer Library in the 21st century (aka the Digital Age). There is no question that libraries have evolved over the past 25 years as the digital world has come into its own in both positive and negative ways — but it is sometimes easy to miss how dramatic this evolution has been.
The first thing that we always hear as library and archives employees is that nobody uses us anymore because: EVERYTHING of value is already free on the Internet; whatever isn’t free is readily available from Amazon (even though EVERYTHING IS FREE); and, libraries are really just quiet warehouses that people have forgotten.
As the Board already knew, and as I expect everyone on campus also knows, this is nothing like the Archer Library of today or its research library peers across the country. While use has definitely shifted from physical journals and hardcover books we are busier than ever. One of the biggest changes we have seen is the Library as a learning space. Over the past year, our study rooms were booked 2,400 hours each — the equivalent of 1,200 days of group work. Our study and work space is in such demand that we have decided to permanently support extended hours during the winter and fall semester exam periods — with the result that Spring saw 3,900 students preparing for exams and final projects on the main floor between 11:00 p.m. and 2 a.m. More than 630,000 people passed through our front door and borrowed the equivalent of 32 electronic and physical items for every student, faculty member and staff person on campus.
But, as has been the case at least since the 1970s, collections and space do not a library make. Library faculty and staff are truly the keys to the success of our services and collections. Over 12,000 of you asked a question, got assistance in using our resources, had a one-on-one meeting with a library employee, or attended an information literacy session. While you no longer need to ask us how tall Mount Everest is, Archer employees have expanded their role as true partners in learning, teaching and research
This Archer Library newsletter will be your window into exciting new services, collections, programs and people at the Archer Library, as well as a place to introduce some of the issues and challenges facing us as academics (did someone say copyright?). And if you have any questions or suggestions, don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Brett Waytuck, University Librarian