To read this content please select one of the options below:

Reflection on the center for digital scholarship in China: a case study on space redesign

Qiandong Zhu (Main Library, Jinan University, Guangzhou, China)

Reference Services Review

ISSN: 0090-7324

Article publication date: 11 April 2021

Issue publication date: 19 July 2021




Focusing on two particularly challenging issues facing Chinese academic libraries – space constraints and the trending of digital scholarship services, this paper aims to explore which spaces students and faculty wanted and how to leverage low-use spaces and growing digital scholarship services to build the Center for Digital Scholarship (CDS) to meet their demands.


The participant observation method was used in the launch stage of the space redesign from May 2016 to October 2018. The usage analysis method was used to reveal the use of the renovated spaces and assess the success of the space redesign when CDS was open to users between October 1, 2017 and September 30, 2018. The usage was gathered from the space reservation system.


A hybrid academic service center combining information commons, a collaborative workplace, social spaces and digital scholarship services, the CDS is able to meet the complexity and diversity of users’ needs and fulfill the mission of its university in the context of insufficient funds, space and specialists. While it approaches the goal of the space redesign project, some deficiencies remain to be addressed in the future design and service plan, including separating quiet and noisy areas, flexible arrangements and business process reengineering.

Practical implications

This study shows a hybrid academic service center can meet the complexity and diversity of users’ needs, despite insufficient funds, space and specialists. To ensure sustainability, digital scholarship services should adapt to local users’ needs and expectations. While the author’s patent service and subject development analysis are local and popular with the users and sectors in his university, they make their services somewhat different from those of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) members.


This is one of the few, recent studies on space redesign incorporating digital scholarship services in a well-known academic library in China.



This work was supported by the National Social Science Fund of China (grant number 20CTQ008). The author acknowledges the anonymous reviewers for their beneficial comments.


Zhu, Q. (2021), "Reflection on the center for digital scholarship in China: a case study on space redesign", Reference Services Review, Vol. 49 No. 2, pp. 211-226.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles