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Changing a Cultural Icon: The Academic Library as a Virtual Destination

EDUCAUSE Review Volume 41, Number 1, ISSN 1527-6619


Academic libraries today are complex institutions with multiple roles and a host of related operations and services developed over the years. Yet their fundamental purpose has remained the same: to provide access to trustworthy, authoritative knowledge. Consequently, academic libraries--along with their private and governmental counterparts--have long stood unchallenged throughout the world as the primary providers of recorded knowledge and historical records. Within the context of higher education especially, when users wanted dependable information, they turned to academic libraries. Today, however, the library is relinquishing its place as the top source of inquiry. The reason that the library is losing its supremacy in carrying out this fundamental role is due, of course, to the impact of digital technology. As digital technology has pervaded every aspect of the civilization, it has set forth a revolution not only in how organizations store and transmit recorded knowledge, historical records, and a host of other kinds of communication but also in how users seek and gain access to these materials. In this article, the author discusses what the colleges and universities should decide about the function of libraries, about the space devoted to libraries, and about the roles of librarians. The author also notes that if these decisions are made wisely, the academy may be able to maintain much of the ineffable, inspirational value associated with academic libraries while retaining their practical value through altogether transformed activities and functions built upon a new mission designed for a more digital world.


Campbell, J.D. (2006). Changing a Cultural Icon: The Academic Library as a Virtual Destination. EDUCAUSE Review, 41(1), 16-18. Retrieved January 17, 2022 from .

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