Letter to the Editor: March 11, 2016

Jonathan Coward’s recent article in The Cord, “Do libraries still matter?” asks an important question, the answer to which, I believe, is a resounding YES!

Libraries matter more than ever, and Wilfrid Laurier University students seem to agree: last year we had over 600,000 visits to our Waterloo campus building and over half a million web sessions — a new record. In Brantford, students have held well-attended read-ins in the last two years to let us know the depth of their support for a full-service academic library on their campus, a project now in the planning stages.

No longer simply a building full of books, the Library is evolving into a dynamic hub where our community can access and interact with information in person, online and across all media: databases and journal articles, one-on-one sessions with expert librarians, performances and workshops, as well as archival collections of rare artefacts and documents, to name a few.

We are also home to the university’s electronic heritage collections, including The Cord’s entire publication run, dating back to 1926 and now available online.

Technology-enhanced study and collaboration spaces are an important part of this information continuum and it makes sense for students to have these spaces in close physical proximity to all of our other resources, services and programs.

Last year, WLU Press and the Robert Langen Art Gallery joined the Library’s organizational structure, and we are currently in the process of integrating these units into our Waterloo campus building and our programming for students. Former Cord editor-in-chief Kate Turner has written eloquently about the lack of venues for students to create and enjoy art and culture as part of their Laurier experience (“Laurier and the Death of Art Expression,” March 4, 2015), and our vision is to develop a new hub at the Library for Laurier students to create, perform and enjoy art, music, literature, and theatre.

We will be moving forward with this and many other plans to continue our Library’s transformation in the months and years ahead, so stay tuned, and if any Laurier student or community member has thoughts or suggestions regarding where we’ve been or where we are going, please let me know at gashoughian@wlu.ca.

You may be familiar with the story of the great Library of Alexandria, recently referred to as the “start-up incubator of the ancient world.” In an era of technology-led transformation, we are in some ways returning to the roots of the library — a place of dynamism, energy and passionate engagement with ideas and community.

Gohar Ashoughian
University Librarian

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One Comment

  1. Well said Gohar, I agree completely that libraries within educational institutions are evolving to be more than books to borrow – they are becoming learned spaces where learning is inspired. The way humans are able to learn and access learning resources has shifted too, but libraries and librarians must help shape the learning environments of the future! The University of Greenwich (UK) showed us around their 2 year old, state of the art, library space(s) that had a range of functions – in a way, made it feel like the ‘go to’ place on campus!
    I love the idea of libraries becoming the ‘go to’ place for those with a desire to learn and better their knowledge, but in a global education model these spaces have to inspire learning both physically and for online engagement (mentioned in the blog) in an inclusive and flexible way, without a loss of experience. This means institutions adopting and adhering to modern web standards in the learning resources they make available, thus mitigating the increasing costs of updating old hardware and software on campuses.

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