What makes a library a library?

On the latest episode of the Chronicle of Higher Education‘s Tech Therapy, Scott Carlson and Warren Arbogast discuss the future of library buildings. They begin the discussion talking about Goucher College’s new library building, which will include a restaurant, art gallery, and treadmills. They talk about the library as a social place, the academic symbolism of books, and the possibility of the bookless library.

I always find it amusing that a library building that includes nourishment for the body and the spirit as well as the mind is seen as something new. I used to work in one of the original Carnegie libraries near Pittsburgh, and the building includes an athletic club and a concert hall. The athletic club includes a pool, and formerly a bowling alley too. The library opened in 1898.

Part of what has always appealed to me about libraries is their role as community spaces. It seems particularly easy to use public libraries as examples, but good corporate, academic, and other libraries play community roles as well.

The best quote from the Tech Therapy discussion, I think, was: “So long as there’s a librarian in it, it’s a library.”

Unplugging for credit

Twelve students at St. Lawrence University in New York are living in the wilderness of the Adirondack Park as part of the “Adirondack Semester” program (NY Times). Every other week, they make an excursion to a nearby town for supplies. According to the Times article, necessities included doing laundry, visiting the library, and for some, a visit to a yarn store. [via The Kept-Up Academic Librarian]

It’s kind of ironic that my last post was about a very different kind of unplugging, and yet I find the concept of abstaining from modern life quite appealing.