today mine electronic databases from their home computers, seek reference
help by sending e-mails to librarians, and launch World Wide Web-based tutorials.
They want information quickly: online, in full text, at their fingertips.
Faculty and scholars, likewise, enjoy immediate access to hundreds of online
academic journals and databases and can search the contents of full-text articles
With so much information available electronicallyat the click of a button, from the comfortable environment of a home, office, or residence hallwho needs the library? Why do libraries matter?
E. Thorin is Ruth Lilly Dean of the University Libraries at Indiana
First, libraries are important as placesas environments that support learning. Its true that the ways students and faculty obtain their information are changing. Technology has a powerful influence, and perhaps nowhere on the Indiana University campuses is the nexus between students, faculty, and information technology more visible than in the libraries. But its also true that academic research libraries are changing to meet user expectations. Libraries are no longer simply warehouses of information that provide access to great printed troves of human knowledge. In todays fast-paced technological environment, libraries are places for students and faculty to collaborate, to find face-to-face guidance from expert librarians, and to conduct interdisciplinary research using both print and electronic resources.
In this definition of the library
as a place, some of the libraries in the IU system shine; some have far to
go. The University Library on the IUPUI
campus, for example, is a showcase. Regional campus libraries such as
the one in South Bend prove their value to the community every day. And in
Bloomington, we have developed a plan to renovate the thirty-year-old Main
Library to meet the expectations of todays users. The
Main Library, which President Brand announced last year will be named
for Herman B Wells, will become an invigorated learning center that fully
integrates technology; traditional library resources such as books and journals;
and librarians, the experts who help make sense of all these resources.
As a prelude to the renovation
(the first phase of which was included in the universitys capital priority
request to the state for the 20012003 biennium), the IU Bloomington
Libraries are working to create an Information Commons in the Main Library,
in partnership with other university departments such as University Information
Technology Services. We know that such partnerships work: the area of the
Main Library that serves primarily undergraduates and offers university services
such as writing workshops, computer clusters, and career advising logged more
than 1 million visits last year.
Recasting the image of the people
who work in libraries is central to defining a library as a place in which
users find help. Erase the antiquated picture of librarians shushing students
in book-lined reading rooms. Librarians today are information providers at
the forefront of the Internet revolutiondeveloping and organizing electronic
resources, teaching students and faculty how to use them, and filtering the
data smog that results from the endless flow of information on
the World Wide Weball while continuing to provide and organize the books
and journals that are the backbone of a research institution.
Second, books remain
the primary commodity. Despite
their growth, electronic resources will never replace the knowledge already
captured in books for centuries. Consider the numbers: IUBs collection
of more than 6 million bound volumes ranks thirteenth in size among North
American research libraries. IUB boasts a collection of more than 7 million
manuscripts, 600,000 maps, 160,000 sound recordings, and 3,000 historical
films. Its collections include 12-foot shipbuilding blueprints, oil paintings,
handwritten correspondence, multivolume reference works, and books in more
than 200 languages. Students and faculty rely heavily on these resources for
their instruction and scholarship.
Preserving this collection is
of paramount importance, and thats why the IU Libraries are building
an Auxiliary Library Facility. Now under construction on the Bloomington campus,
this facility will serve two purposes: It will house nearly 1.8 million volumes
and relieve the severe overcrowding of books in the Bloomington campus libraries,
and it will include a state-of-the-art preservation laboratory to ensure that
we can continue to care for the universitys collections.
Increasingly, those collections
also include digital materialsat considerable expense to the libraries.
Just as students and faculty rely on the IU Libraries to provide books and
journals, they also rely on the libraries to provide the intellectual content
available through technology: the databases, electronic journals and indices,
online catalogs, digital audio recordings, and instructional Web pages that
make their study and research more fruitful. Whether in the libraries, residence
halls, off-campus homes, offices, or classrooms, students and faculty know
they can access the information they need, when they need it. But without
this rich intellectual content, the technological infrastructureof which
Indiana University is justifiably proudloses its value.
In this issue, youll learn a bit more about the Indiana University Libraries: the people who work there and use library resources, and the issues and projects important to them. I invite your comments as we prepare the IU Libraries for the challenges ahead.