Learning About Libraries

Since I started my new job, I’ve been exploring the web trying to better understand just where this field as a whole is going.

One thing that I’ve found very interesting is that while Computer Science is often seen as a field that changes a lot, the fundamental delivery of the material hasn’t changed a whole lot. The classes I took during my time as a student are not very different from the classes that are offered now. The Dalhousie Libraries, and for that matter many libraries over the world, are a whole other ballgame though.

The first major change that I’ve seen at Dal and that seems to be common everywhere else is a change in the way libraries use their space. Now that most journals are available in digital form, the stacks of physical journals are almost all gone, replaced by learning commons. Learning commons are spaces that are filled with computers, but rather than having a computer lab feel, they are far more open, have a great deal of additional space for books and other study materials, casual lounging space and a slew of on-site help from all corners of the university.

Whereas the library was an intimidating place to go as an undergrad so many years ago with a very sterile feel in the air, things are different today. The learning commons and additional study spaces now progress from having a fun murmur of students hanging out on the ground floor commons and first floor hallway study spaces, to the very quiet spaces found in the study carols and higher floors of the library. It’s a much more comfortable place to work and it shows with the volume of students that you can see in the library.

Now that libraries have moved on past the initial need for digitization, they’re moving heavily into the other realms of modern web technologies. They’re using these technologies to help connect to an audience that is increasingly remote and wants to work online. It’s a pretty cool place to work since libraries are embracing and leveraging technology in a big way.