Virginia Magazine Examines Changes to the Role of the Library at UVA

In a feature article “Next Chapter,” Virginia Magazine looks at change in the library system at UVA that began with its founding in the Rotunda and continues today with the growth of digital media and the evolution of the way library space is used by faculty, grads, and undergrads.

According to University Librarian John Unsworth, the print collection will continue to grow but will likely be used less than digital resources. He maintains, however, that the primary purpose of the Library will not change: “The most important thing you find in a library is a librarian, and the need for people with expertise in the field of information isn’t going to go away.” There will also be a need for partnerships with other libraries to make information free and accessible online, and a need for cooperation on digital scholarship within the Library—between the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities (IATH) and the Scholars’ Lab, for instance.

As plans for Alderman Library’s renovation take shape, Unsworth encourages stakeholders to contribute their ideas about what a future Alderman should be. “We want faculty and students to identify the characteristics that they want to see in the collections on open shelves …The question is not how many, but which books should be in Alderman.”

Another way the Library has been addressing student needs is by redesigning its space. Senior Director of Administration and Planning Donna Tolson says, “For many students, the library is the place they go when they want to get work done … And we have made space for them to do that.”

Read more about the present and future development of the Library in the article Next Chapter (Virginia Magazine, Summer 2017).

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