In 1993, a proposal was made at Harvard College to renovate the principal undergraduate library (Lamont) to create a Gateway library. What do we mean by that phrase? A Gateway library, as we define it, is a transition from a traditional library (characterized, perhaps a little unfairly, as a passive storehouse of the scholarly output of printed texts and space for their study) to the emerging world of digital information and distributed computing, sometimes whimsically portrayed as a network of astonishing resources available over broadband networks from anywhere in the world. Specific predictions about how information technology will change and affect libraries is premature, in part, because we do not fully understand how it will affect universities, of which libraries are a necessary and integral part. The Gateway, then, represents a transition between two learning cultures—print and digital—and tries to bridge the gap between the traditional library and what it might become as higher education metamorphoses.
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