Libraries in a Corporatized University
The Wall Street Journal reports about how colleges are removing stacks of books from their libraries and making them more into social centers. The article suggests that this new breed of library makes sense because of the availability of online information. Reading within the article, I get the sense that we are seeing the effects of the corporatization of the University, where students are seen as customers and the educational process takes a backseat.
Conkey, Christopher. 2006. “Libraries Beckon, But Stacks of Books Aren’t Part of Pitch.” Wall Street Journal (21 October): p. A 1.
“Mr. AmRhein, the 49-year-old library dean at Valparaiso, arrived in 1999 to oversee the design of a new library. “We looked at the way students work today,” Mr. AmRhein recalls. “They sit in comfortable chairs with their latte in their hand and they’re instant messaging with their friends at the same time as they’re studying or doing research”.”
“To that end, cozy alcoves in the Christopher Center — named for benefactors Jay and Doris Christopher, who sold their Pampered Chef line of kitchen tools to Warren Buffett in 2002 — contain gas fireplaces that can be turned on with the flick of a switch. Others run along enormous glass walls so students can gaze across a meadow, the sun’s glare neutralized by automatic blinds and a gigantic concrete lattice, dubbed “Hollywood Squares” by students, that surrounds the building. Student traffic, measured by gate counts, jumped 433% in the first year after the new library opened in September 2004.”