Library as Place: Rethinking Roles, Rethinking Space

Library as Place: Rethinking Roles, Rethinking Space

Council on Library and Information Resources
Washington, D.C.
February 2005

A wealth of high-quality material is now accessible electronically. What does this revolutionary change mean for the creation and design of library space? What is the role of a library when it no longer needs to be a warehouse of books and when users can obtain information without setting foot in its doors? Few libraries have failed to consider these questions—whether they serve their collections electronically or physically, whether they serve the general public or more specialized academic users.


In developing this publication, CLIR sought to explore these questions from a variety of perspectives. Authors of these essays include librarians, an architect, and a professor of art history and classics. The focus is primarily on research and academic libraries, although one essay, in describing a unique merger, challenges the boundaries that have long divided academic and public libraries. Each author brings a distinctive perspective to thinking about the use and services, and the roles and future, of the library; at the same time, each underscores the central, growing importance of the library as place—or base—for teaching, learning, and research in the digital age.