Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Art of Change: The Impact of Place and the Future of Academic Art Library Collections

Falls, S., & Hatheway, H. (2015). The art of change: The impact of place and the future of academic art library collections. New Review of Academic Librarianship, 21(2), 185-195.

I found this to be an interesting article because it addresses art libraries, which are a subset of the larger libraries we study.  From my experience, they are rarely, if often, discussed.  This article explores two art libraries, the Fine Arts Library of the Ohio State University, and the Haas Arts Library at Yale University, and how over time the architecturally significant spaces they occupy have changed, and how this has impacted their collections.  The authors state that, “as subject specific collecting on campuses has been decentralized by collaborative collection development, consortial borrowing, and the quick availability of materials in both digital and print formats” (p. 185), the need for a physical space for research in the library has diminished.  Circulation at the Fine Arts Library has decreased over the years, in addition to less use by patrons.  One way the space has been repurposed is using it as an exhibit space.  A series of successful art exhibits were displayed in the library as a way to engage users.  The Haas Arts Library experienced the reverse, where because study space is at a premium on campus, the library has been inundated with students.  The library itself is not able to accommodate more materials, but having a study space for patrons, and providing specialized assistance to them, is deemed more important.  As both libraries are in a state of flux, there are no guaranteed answers, in regards to their collections, and their space.  The authors conclude that they “are further challenged to promote our space as one of many options to study for all disciplines, and remain the principle location to receive specialized help and guidance for arts research…In the future, at both institutions, a service model that balances the needs of the general library user with those of the special subject user is being investigated” (p. 193).

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