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What is the 21st Century Academic Library? Qu’est-ce qu’une bibliothèque de recherche au 21è siècle ?

Karen Dias is the Interim Dean of Libraries at West Virginia University and has been a librarian for 30 years.

A phrase being used with more frequency in higher education is the “21st century research library.” In fact, you often hear library leaders discussing how their goal is to help their organization become one.  What you often don’t get is a definition of what that means exactly. One reason for this is that the definition is still being discovered.  But even though we don’t have a complete definition, we certainly have the clear outlines of one. Here are elements of a 21st century research library that resonate with me:

Focus on the needs of the campus and changes in higher education

In the 20th century there was much effort on modernizing the systems of the library, but much of that work tended to be internally focused.  This work provided good results that are continuing to make access to our resources easier, thus bringing us to the place where we can now begin to look more outside of ourselves. We now need to be looking at what the challenges of our campuses are and leveraging our resources to support those new challenges. At WVU the big challenges set forth by our president include action on Education, Prosperity, and Health. In the libraries we are looking at new and innovative ways we are uniquely poised to support these.
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