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The Academic Library’s Existential Threat

The biggest threat to the academic library is the low expectations of their communities. Sometimes these expectations are oriented in a positive direction, based on fondly-remembered book and quiet places, the smells and grand spaces. The alternative is negative, the casual assumption that libraries have nothing more to offer in a digital age. Both are outdated to the point of toxicity: nostalgia and dismissiveness turn out to be two sides of a very bad coin.
In truth, the digital age gives academic libraries tools to make more significant contributions than ever before. The urgent mission of smart libraries like Atkins is to show their communities, not to tell them, what they should be expect out of a modern research library. As long as students work at assimilating the scholarly record, and faculty work at contributing to it, the core function and expertise of the library will be a vital part of what makes universities, and their communities, successful.