Imagining a library for the Internet era


Amanda Irons.jpg
Amanda Irons

With finals week upon us, it’s time to reflect upon what a library should look like in an Internet era.

Aside from the occasional outlier assignment, I cannot recall the last time I went to the library, opened a book, and conducted research. A paradigm shift has occurred. Information no longer exclusively resides in leather binding. Even further, the library has extensive periodicals and articles online. With this norm shift, I do not believe our libraries are conducive to our new standards of learning.

It starts with the simple elements. Imagine a world where you and your study group could easily find a room in the library. Fantasy now, but this dream is not unattainable. To do this, we must reevaluate the utilization of library space. Books on every floor are conducive to a time when books were the holy grail of information. With Google Scholar, and our own library’s database of scholarly articles, information can be retrieved anywhere with Internet access.

Additionally, the library is becoming a place to study, and stepping away from a place to research. If we took all the books and centralized them to a floor or two, space could then be reutilized. By adding more rooms, and developing a system to track room availability, we could cut out that frustrating experience of walking floor to floor trying to find an open space.

The mundanity of the library alone makes it painful to study there. Just looking at the white walls is enough to lull me to a slumber. In turn, I thrive on visual stimulation. Vibrant aesthetic means are motivating. They wake you up. After weary eyes peer up from hours of staring at a bright screen, would they rather meet a mural of inspiration, or a white wall? Introducing more wide scale art can greatly impact the vibe of the space.

Speaking of waking up, I could get behind the idea of an in-library cafe. Syracuse University in New York has already implemented a cafe in their library. The library itself could be a one-stop shop for coffee, espressos and even a small sandwich selection.Offering itself as a one-stop shop for coffee, espressos and even a small sandwich selection. Visualize your head starting to bob and your eyes struggling to stay open. It’s 7 p.m. and you still have three exams to study for. imagine all you have to do to receive that much needed caffeine fix is go to the fourth floor cafe. Keep on that study grind without having to pack up and leave.

When I think about the ideal study space, I think of outlets. I think of comfortable lounging options, structured tables, treadmills with a shelf for your laptop, and those exercise balls they had in the computer lab of “Degrassi: The Next Generation.” I envision colorful walls and whiteboards everywhere. Places to study individually as well as collectively.

The Laptop Lounge on the first floor of Meriam Library is a good start to what a modern study area should look like, but I think there is vast room for change and improvement.As you confine yourself to the library to study for finals, indulge yourself in the idea of innovation. Play with the possibilities, and get off Facebook.

Amanda Irons can be reached at [email protected] or @amanda_irons on Twitter.