An interesting article from The Chronicle discusses university libraries that are moving completely online or remaking their physical spaces for the digital future. The libraries at Stanford University, Cornell University, and Johns Hopkins University are all making changes toward a “bookless library.”
According to the article, Stanford University recently opened a new engineering library that is significantly smaller and includes far fewer books. Only 15,000 of the library’s 96,000 books will be on display in the new library and the rest will be moved to off-site storage. Librarians will no longer staff the desk but will be available to students through e-mail, Facebook, online chatting, or phone. In addition, the library will have 15 e-book readers available. An article on Stanford’s website includes more information and a video about the new library.
Cornell University’s engineering library is also moving most of its print books to storage and then dividing the remainder among other libraries on campus. In addition, Johns Hopkins University has decided it will no longer have a physical location for its medical library. The library staff will now work within the academic departments.
The article notes that many of the libraries that are moving towards digital are those in the science and technology fields because they contain journals that are already available online. Libraries for other disciplines are not as likely to move in the short term. However, things could change in the long term. Recent data from The Association of Research Libraries shows that libraries are now spending less money on books and more on electronic resources.