Library Babel Fish (aka Barbara Fister) alerted me to a recent NYTimes article discussing college for a new age.
Joe Nocera of the NYTimes recently profiled Kevin Carey and Carey's new book, "The End of College." “'The story of higher education’s future is a tale of ancient institutions in their last days of decadence, creating the seeds of a new world to come,' he writes. If he is right, higher education will be transformed into a different kind of learning experience that is cheaper, better, more personalized and more useful."
A telling quote from the book: "You don’t need libraries and research infrastructure and football teams and this insane race for status,” he says. “If you only have to pay for the things that you actually need, education doesn’t cost $60,000 a year.”
It's not a new criticism that universities have gone beyond the necessary to the lavish, which ups the cost for all. But libraries? Really? Libraries are more in line with the necessary for educational purposes than the lavish.
Carey makes a case that universities focus too much on the research and scholarship of faculty rather than focusing on teaching, which is what the consumer is paying for. And it seems that because, in Carey's mind, the faculty should not focus on research, it means that libraries can go.
Libraries go beyond research for research's sake. They provide professional development for the faculty to stay on top of their given field - ultimately making the faculty better teachers. And can a student truly get through a tough academic curriculum without ever using the library?
Librarians are open to the idea that the need for the physical space of the library may be changing, but the resources and support are still very much a part of the true academic experience.