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Library Spaces Redefined: A Case Study at a Liberal Arts College

The Future of Library Space

ISBN: 978-1-78635-270-5, eISBN: 978-1-78635-269-9

ISSN: 0732-0671

Publication date: 15 December 2016



The purpose of this case study is to demonstrate how a liberal arts college library has reimagined its spaces in response to the changes in higher education, particularly integration of educational technology into research, teaching, and learning; changes in students’ information-seeking behaviors; and an increasingly important role of local special collections as a means to preserve and reinforce unique institutional identity.


This case study is built on the first-hand experience, as all contributors directly participated in each phase of the process, from formulating ideas to completion of the current stage.


Meaningful and high-impact space adjustments do not necessarily entail extensive budgetary investments. They do entail, however, developing comprehensive goals and directions and a level of collaboration among library departments and relevant academic units in order to deliver cohesive services, programming, and a creative, nimble response to the constantly changing needs of the patron.

Practical implications

We believe that these high-impact, cost-conscious improvements provide a useful model for other small academic libraries preparing to reconfigure or renovate their spaces. We offer a model for creating a dynamic, service-centered space on a limited budget.


The overwhelming majority of the literature related to library spaces focuses on large universities, and the treatment of space topics in small undergraduate colleges, and liberal arts colleges in particular, is strikingly negligent. This case study of a small liberal arts college will help fill the void by adding to the rare voices commenting on library spaces in liberal arts colleges.



Barbosa-Jerez, M., Gonnerman, K., Gottfried, B. and Paul, J. (2016), "Library Spaces Redefined: A Case Study at a Liberal Arts College", The Future of Library Space (Advances in Library Administration and Organization, Vol. 36), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 169-197.



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