Plans to Renew Georgia Tech Library Move Forward with Campus Engagement Process and Architectural Designs

Over the next 5 years, the Georgia Tech Library plans to renew its role and purpose to meet the changing research, teaching, and learning needs of the campus community.

“We are moving away from concentrating on housing the physical collections to providing innovative services and inspirational spaces and services for new generations of faculty and students,” said Catherine Murray-Rust, Vice Provost for Learning Excellence and Dean of Libraries.

The Library Next project, which kicked off mid-November, aims to define the 21st century technological research library. It calls for a reimagining of all aspects of the library’s role on campus, from research services to its collections.

“Research libraries across the globe are undergoing transitions similar to what we’re preparing for here at Tech,” said Murray-Rust. “Changes in pedagogy, learning styles, and scholarly publishing allow us the freedom to re-imagine the way we deliver library services and support research.”

Although the project is still in its infancy, several aspects are already set in motion. The Board of Regents recently approved $1.7 million in design funds to renew the Price Gilbert Memorial & Crosland Library towers. The Institute is also contributing $2.3 million in design funds. By the end of the semester, an architectural firm will be selected to begin design-planning work.

Plans are underway to begin moving the majority of the print collection to an off-site facility shared with Emory University Libraries. The facility, known as the EmTech Library Service Center (LSC), will be a Harvard-style, high-density building designed to ensure the long-term storage of paper and microfilm.

The LSC will be located on Emory’s Briarcliff campus. Transforming the Library towers enables the creation of a shared collection available to students and faculty of both institutions, which is a goal of the Emory-Tech partnership.

In recent years, the print collection has experienced a precipitous decline in usage, while visits to the physical facility and uses of the electronic collection have risen substantially. Visits to the Library increased from 572,769 in FY2002 to 1,358,387 in FY2013, a 137% increase.

“We’re seeing a higher gate count than ever before, but the vast majority of the print collection is under utilized and taking up valuable space at the center of campus. Once collections are relocated, there will be a singular opportunity to redefine the role of a research library away from a repository of print materials to one of providing ubiquitous and unique research services. We are looking to campus for ideas on innovative ways to help us redefine the research library for the 21st century,” said Ameet Doshi, User Experience Librarian.

In an effort to ensure the print collection remains accessible to users, the Library will design new service models to rapidly retrieve material from the LSC.

Potential service model ideas include:

  • “On-demand” scanning services
  • Multiple deliveries of print material per day
  • A reading room in the Library Services Center, and more

The next phase of the Library Next project includes engaging students and faculty to gather insight on how the library can best support research, teaching and learning in the future. The Library is partnering with Brightspot Strategy, a user-centered design consultancy, to assist with user research and support the creation of a shared vision to inform the architectural design and programming.

Starting today, library users can learn about the details of the Library Next project at renewal.library.gatech.edu. They are also invited to contribute feedback and new ideas to help shape the future of the Georgia Tech Library.

“Our spaces and service models should evolve to match the needs of the students and faculty at Tech,” said Murray-Rust. “We don’t want to recreate the Clough Commons; we want to do something different. Our goal is to ensure we’re serving Georgia Tech researchers, scholars and students to the best of our ability by continuing to challenge ourselves.”

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