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Strategic development of university library space: Widening the influence

Graham Matthews (Centre for Information Management, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK)
Graham Walton (University Library, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK)

New Library World

ISSN: 0307-4803

Article publication date: 6 May 2014




The purpose of this paper is to explore issues, approaches and challenges in providing strategic direction to university libraries on developing their physical space in what is increasingly a digital age. A key aspect of the work is to explore how university libraries and their senior staff can widen libraries’ role to inform the strategic direction of formal and informal learning spaces across the institution.


Research and perspectives from across the world provide the context for the study. A single site case study based at Loughborough University in the UK is explored to demonstrate how strategy for university library space is developed. The case study also provides an example of how a university library has extended its influence on other informal learning spaces.


University library physical space has an important role in learning, teaching and research, despite the increase in digital information provision. For effective strategy, information and evidence needs to be collected from a wide range of sources. The experience and skills that university libraries have developed in managing learning spaces can be transferred to learning spaces elsewhere in the university.

Research limitations/implications

This is a single site case study.

Practical implications

The case study provides approaches and ideas that can be applied by university libraries in the strategic development of learning spaces.


The paper provides an innovative and informed insight into how university libraries can influence learning and teaching spaces across university campus/site. Further research would be valuable to identify practice more widely. Surveying, from a library perspective, university and university estate, management strategies for content relating to libraries and formal and informal spaces across the institution and what is going on/being planned in this area would further progress the debate.



The author thanks the following Loughborough University library staff who took part in developing the physical space strategy: Steve Corn, Jo Croson, Brant Hickman, Liz Mills, Sharon Reid and Dawn Roberts.


Matthews, G. and Walton, G. (2014), "Strategic development of university library space: Widening the influence", New Library World, Vol. 115 No. 5/6, pp. 237-249.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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