From Collections to Connections

How can libraries embrace change yet stay true to their founding principles?

You could easily assume that today’s libraries are united by nothing but their diversity.

At one extreme we have a brand-new breed of academic libraries, being thrust forward as part of growing the higher education sector. At the other extreme are the traditional public lending libraries, many of which are struggling with falling visitor numbers and a profound funding crisis. In the middle are a broad spectrum of private, independent and specialist libraries seeking to remain relevant to a new generation by adapting to their needs and expectations.

Despite their apparent difference, dig below the surface and many common themes emerge.

We see a shift in emphasis from collections to connections:

  • Connections with a new generation of users
  • Connections through digital technologies
  • Connections with colleagues and counterparts in the broader libraries sector

We also see a reconnection with the founding principles of many libraries – that is, as portals to information and resources that would otherwise be beyond the reach of the individual users.

In this paper, through three scene-setting sections, we investigate the changing circumstances facing libraries across various sectors: academic, public, and private, independent and specialist libraries. As well as addressing the big challenges, we set out some practical solutions.

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