Interesting article in Inside Higher Ed on libraries.

What started as a debate over whether brick-and-mortar libraries would survive much further into the 21st century turned into an existential discussion on the definition of libraries, as a gathering of technologists here at the 2009 Educause Conference pondered the evolution of one of higher education’s oldest institutions.

“Let’s face it: the library, as a place, is dead,” said Suzanne E. Thorin, dean of libraries at Syracuse University. “Kaput. Finito. And we need to move on to a new concept of what the academic library is.”

Exactly correct. (See this post for lots of useful background.) It makes little sense to store tens of thousands of physical volumes in the center of the Williams campus. The delay in the completion of the Stetson-Sawyer library may prove a blessing in disguise. The Record reported:

Another issue brought up at the meeting was the continued delay of the ultimate phase of the Stetson-Sawyer project: the construction of the new library, which was originally slated to begin last year.

At last week’s meeting, Lenhart expressed doubt that construction would resume in the next year, a sentiment echoed by Dave Pilachowski, College librarian and chair of the Stetson-Sawyer Committee.

According to Pilachowski, a decision will have to be made at or before the upcoming April Board meeting in order for construction to begin next fall. “The Board will be making the decision on resuming the project,” he said. “It seems highly unlikely at this time that the decision will be made to authorize construction in April.”

Pilachowski said that a significant upswing in market performance would be necessary in order for the project authorization to occur.

“For this to happen, we’d need to see a more advantageous alignment of affordable regional construction pricing, a reduction in the cost of borrowing money, and significantly more room in the College’s operating budget to absorb the increase in interest payments that will be generated when we launch the project,” he said.

Good. The project should be scrapped and rethought. We probably need to tear down Sawyer and fix up Stetson, but we don’t need to do it in a such a way that the center of campus is filled with little used books and journals. Previous (fun!) discussion here.

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