Are Academic Libraries Still Relevant?

By: Saowapha Limwichitr  

In the disruptive time, questions whether libraries are still important have been raised. In July 2018, a Forbes column arguing that libraries should be replaced by Amazon becomes a controversial issue. Academic libraries have long been symbols of learning being at the heart of campus. Users have to visit physical buildings to obtain resources and services. For the past decades, however, academic libraries have experienced changes mainly due to technological disruption. The millennials now can access resources on the Internet through smartphones. Traditional services become old-fashioned as users need seamless access through online services. Thus, libraries cannot assume that users will walk in the front doors, casting doubt on Why do we need library when everything is on the Internet? or Do universities still need to invest in the libraries? This study argues that libraries are still important but, like other organizations, they need an ongoing transformation to remain relevant. Presented here is a case study research conducted in six leading academic libraries in Thailand where changes have been made to their service models, including the provision of resources, spaces, and services. The study employed qualitative approaches, involving policy analysis, interviews, and observation to explore how the libraries redefine their roles within the academy. The presentation focuses on approaches for monitoring challenges and potential threats; establishing a sense of urgency and communicating to staff; developing their policies and practices; as well as engaging staff and users. The study helps envision value of libraries, allowing them to plan for the future.

Change Management, Library Management, Academic Libraries
Change Management
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Saowapha Limwichitr

Lecturer, Library Science, Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University

I am currently working as a lecturer at the Department of Library Science, Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University, teaching Library Management and Knowledge Mangement module. My research interests embrace organizational development, change management, knowledge management, and organizational culture in the LIS field.