Life of the Library: An Exploration of Public Space Use and Meaning
MetadataShow full item record
Libraries have a long history of adapting to environmental factors for the benefit of their users. Recent technological advances and pedagogical shifts are creating fundamental changes in the way academic libraries are perceived and utilized. As a result, librarians are increasingly concerned with ensuring that the physical library remains relevant and meaningful to its users. To that end, this paper explores the academic library as a dialectical place of enlightenment and engagement through the words and actions of library users at York University. Library behaviour was documented and interpreted to better understand user needs. Reflections about memorable library experiences were analyzed to gain greater insight about the role of the library as place in the broader context of students’ lived experiences. It was recognized that the creation and support of flexible yet differentiated library spaces allows for the development of multiple and convergent places of meaning. The students’ library is a place of belonging, one in which librarians and library staff are increasingly marginalized. This empowering shift of control from professional to student marks a transition from a highly controlled venue for book storage and solitary study to a student space that supports social learning and other types of engagement. In order to remain relevant and meaningful the academic library must be a successful, and public, place for students to learn and engage.