Here’s a thing. In this digital age of tablets, handy mobile devices, laptops and other technological must-have accessories, guess what is one of the most popular places on any university campus anywhere in the world?
It’s the university library. In the words of the UK’s Society of College, National and University Libraries (SCONUL) the library is much more than a passive repository for knowledge:
“For the undergraduate, the library as a place, and the library as a service are central to their experience of university. The library represents an important point of continuity for students during their time at university as does their relationship with its staff.”
Last week we at HECG celebrated 10 reasons we love universities. They were all research projects, chosen ad hoc from Australian university websites. We did this because we think that it is good to pause every now and again to focus on all that is good about higher education. This week we are taking time out to celebrate thousands of reasons we love universities – campus libraries. And, of course, their millions upon millions of books, theses, e-books and printed and digital materials of all kinds. And we celebrate the work of their staff too, without whom libraries as we know them could not function. In the words of SCONUL again:
“The library continues to fulfil its role as the heart of the university, despite the move away from print and towards electronic resources. The work the library undertakes contributes directly to the institution’s academic mission and to equipping students with the skills and knowledge they need to achieve academically and to maximise their employability.”
According to the Council of Australian University Librarians, as of October 2015 Australian universities alone housed 14,650,975 books and monographs and 2,970,493 serial titles. Total number of items borrowed amounted to 11,783,56. Around the world campus libraries are a place of inspiration and learning for millions. They are at the core of university life, in research, teaching, study and for the simple pleasure of reading and reflection. Anchored in the past, they are beacons of hope for the present and future. Isn’t that great?