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Reimagining the Academic Library

Reimagining the Academic Library paints a simple straightforward picture of the changes affecting academic libraries and what academic librarians need to do to respond to the changes would help to guide future library practice. The aim is to explain where academic libraries need to go and how to get there in a book that can be read in a weekend. David W. Lewis provides a readable survey of the current state of academic library practice and proposes where academic libraries need to go in the future to provide value to their campuses. His primary focus is on collections as this is the area with the greatest opportunity for change and is the driver of most library cost. Lewis provides an accessible framework for thinking about how library practice needs to adjust in the digital environment.
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About the Author

David W. Lewis is Dean of the IUPUI University Library and Assistant Vice President Digital Scholarly Communications for Indiana University.


Beginning with the premise that in order to create an academic library that meets scholarly needs, we first need to have a vision or image of this future institution, Lewis reimagines academic libraries using educator and scholar Clayton Christensen's idea of disruptive innovation as a launching point. The author of numerous articles on academic libraries and scholarly communication, Lewis urges academic libraries to develop new business models and 'find opportunities to be the disrupter who develops new services and products that use the available technologies' or face obsolescence. Proposing a blueprint or 'road,' the author divides the chapters into two parts: the forces we face and the steps down the road. Including input from many library professionals, the concluding chapter outlines what steps need to happen: retiring the print collection, developing a design plan, hiring and developing the needed staff expertise, selling the change, etc. VERDICT: An important resource for academic librarians, higher education administrators, and those involved in strategic planning to help guide the discussions of how to allocate library resources. Library Journal In his effort to reimagine the academic library, Lewis uses business theorist Clayton Christensen's theory of disruption to frame his arguments about the institution's future. Lewis identifies six forces that require academic librarians to reconceive their services and collections so as to maintain a role in the knowledge industry of the future. Lewis then offers six steps that staff need to take to remain relevant to their academic communities, ending with a further ten concrete steps they should consider taking immediately (retiring the legacy print collection, engaging in space planning, budgeting for open access, preserving local scholarly content, among others). The book provides a candid and readable account of the disruptors that the profession currently faces, and many librarians will find the content valuable for starting conversations about the future within their institutional settings. The use of 'disruptive innovation' nicely sets the tone for the content of the book...Summing Up: Recommended. Graduate students through researchers/faculty; professionals/practitioners. CHOICE This book reminds me of a well-written backcountry trail guide...I heartily recommend this book...[T]his is a unique book that should be read by key members of every institution that wants to be proactive in moving ahead into the digital age. Reflective Teaching Reimagining the Academic Library provides both a succinct overview of the external forces that have been driving change in academic libraries for more than the past two decades as well as proposed steps academic library leaders and librarians should take to address these forces and help complete the transition to a relevant, digital 21st-century academic library. In this very easy-to-read volume, Lewis articulates exactly why the changes he promotes make sense based on the historical context for the disruption we have all been experiencing as well as ongoing technological changes. I believe this book should be required reading for all students in library or information management schools interested in working in academic libraries. College & Research Libraries David Lewis, always a thoughtful commentator on changing roles and responsibilities of academic libraries, has skillfully painted a picture of what the digital library looks like and explains the driving forces that led to the transition. With collection building no longer at the center, libraries are called upon to become stewards of their campus-produced information and knowledge, preparing it to be useful to the far broader networked world. What librarians and higher education administrators will find so useful in his work are the ten things academic libraries need to do now to meet the needs of their users in the digital environment. -- Deanna Marcum, Managing Director, Ithaka S+R With this insightful and very readable book, David Lewis, a true visionary thought leader, opens with an excellent description of the forces that academic libraries and librarians face in an increasingly digital world. He then offers a framework and six "steps down the road" for re-envisioning the future library in this context. This is a "must read" for every academic librarian and other leaders in higher education. The concluding chapter, "Ten Things to Do Now", and the extensive bibliography alone are worth the price of this book. -- Maureen Sullivan, Consultant and 2012-2013 President of the American Library Association Reimagining the Academic Library is an insightful and inciteful sweep of the current state of academic library context, practice and direction. The book commands the literature of the field, and the relevant business, economic and technology thinking to help the profession work through the challenges of disruption, resources, digital transformation, professional demographics, and the new scholarly record. David Lewis concludes his book with a rousing call to collective innovation and action. -- James G. Neal, University Librarian Emeritus, Columbia University

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