Still Converging: Information Services in the Library

This collection of case studies (see below) is now almost 10 years old and the studies it contains are at least that old if not older. The idea of convergence and collaboration in campus information services, however, continues to drive the current operations and future planning of most academic libraries even today, and probably rightly so. A cursory review of the most recent (2015) Academic Library Trends and Statistics as published by Association of College and Research Libraries certainly confirms this. By the way, this ACRL study is crazy overpriced at $599 — come on, ACRL, don’t price gouge.  Convergence and Collaboration of Campus Information Services (2008) argues that when campus departments converge they more efficiently further their shared mission of supporting teaching, learning, and inquiry, and that collaboration may lead to a convergence of collections. Good stuff. The case studies highlighted in this book demonstrate how academic libraries can show their value and contributions alongside other campus departments contributing to the mission of their colleges or universities.

My concern today, though, is that the exponential growth in the availability of information resources, the ubiquitous discovery and retrieval of those resources, and the common (though largely false) confidence of students in their ability to efficiently navigate this terrain, have not prompted much creativity on the part of academic libraries in the last 10 years since this publication. I am afraid that libraries are again contributing to the digging of their own graves and are failing to show how much value they bring to the academic environment. Lead the way, librarians. Don’t just rely on external vendors.  Don’t let the IT guardians dictate the extent of your creativity and innovation.  Don’t let campus support services like student success centers take your place in research assistance. Put data to work for you and lead the way.

All in all, though, this book is a helpful summary of what other libraries have done in the past as attempts to convergence and collaboration.  Unfortunately, though, trends and statistics would indicate that this book remains as current as ever.  View it in my TinyCat library here:

Convergence and Collaboration of Campus Information Services Book Cover Convergence and Collaboration of Campus Information Services
Peter Hernon, Ronald R. Powell,
Greenwood Publishing Group

Convergence and collaboration enable an academic library to be more fully engaged with its campus. In its simplest form, convergence is defined as joint activities of a campus's units to further their shared mission of supporting teaching, learning, and inquiry. Convergence, which involves collaboration in both organizational structures and service delivery, leads to users benefiting from contact with individuals who have relevant expertise. Collaboration also may lead to convergence of collections, thereby enhancing library service to an institution's constituents. Specific examples of convergence/collaboration include centers for teaching excellence, tutor and writing centers, information arcades, facilities for multi-media production and delivery, information and learning commons, cafes, photocopying centers; centers for distance education, participation in the use of course management software (e.g., Blackboard) to make library resources available to classes digitally and to make students more information literate, publishing (e.g., university presses and digital collections, including institutional repositories), counseling and career centers, and services for students for whom English is a secondary language (mostly in community colleges). For anyone interested in how academic libraries can be more closely tied to the various missions of the colleges/universities in which they reside.

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