Envisioning Future Academic Library Services: Initiatives, Ideas and Challenges

David Stuart (King's College London, London, UK)

Collection Building

ISSN: 0160-4953

Article publication date: 5 July 2011




Stuart, D. (2011), "Envisioning Future Academic Library Services: Initiatives, Ideas and Challenges", Collection Building, Vol. 30 No. 3, pp. 140-140. https://doi.org/10.1108/01604951111147009



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

The web has fundamentally changed the way people access a wide variety of content and services, and few institutions have felt this change more than libraries, where even the need for a physical building has been questioned as users increasingly expect services at their desktop. At this time of extensive change, Envisioning Future Academic Library Services brings together the insights of academics, librarians and publishers on the important issues affecting academic libraries today.

There are a number of themes covered in the book's 12 chapters (as well as in the brief introduction and foreword by the Chief Executive of the British Library): the “digital native”, the role of the physical building, Web 2.0 technologies, the changing nature of scholarly publishing and the importance of leadership. So‐called “digital natives” have different work practices and expectations from the modern library, and physical buildings need to meet these new needs. At the same time, virtual worlds such as Second Life provide news spaces for libraries, and Web 2.0 technologies offer new ways of providing services. Along with these new technologies, however, come difficulties with archiving ephemeral publications, as well as the storing of research data and other new forms of publications.

Whilst the book is titled Envisioning Future Academic Library Services, most of the chapters deal with issues that libraries are dealing with today, for example Web 2.0, Second Life, the role of the physical building. For the most part it is not a book that really pushes the boundaries beyond what is already being widely discussed in library circles. While there are worthwhile chapters, such as “Libraries and the Management of Research Data”, there are also pieces which are much less worthwhile, such as the generic “The Leadership of the Future”.

Such a wide‐ranging book necessarily lacks a certain depth, which makes the topic of references particularly important. However in many places throughout the book I expected more. For example, when the first chapter discusses the “growing weight of evidence” that digital natives are fundamentally different people, I expect something to back it up. I would also expect any chapter dealing with libraries in Second Life to have at least a passing reference to Virtual Worlds, Real Libraries, a book specifically dealing with library services in Second Life.

The book may be useful for the practitioner wanting a brief overview of some of the current issues that are important within academic libraries, but for anyone who wants to gain real insights into the future of libraries, they will probably have to look further afield.

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