18th LIASA Annual Conference: Abstracts:

The 21st Century University Library as a place for learning, meeting and sharing experiences

Robert Jacob Pearce

Libraries have existed since approximately 2600 BCE as an archive of recorded knowledge. In the past from clay tablets and papyrus scrolls to printed books and periodicals, libraries have collected these printed materials, housed them and made them available to library users. Today, in the era defined as the 21st Century, with the digitization of content and advancement of the Internet, the World Wide Web (WWW) and Cloud Computing information is no longer confined to printed materials or accessibility only in a single, physical location. Librarians find themselves in the hybrid “print” versus “e” era and redesigning of Library spaces for the 21st Century (e-era) has become essential. Libraries must re-invent themselves as content become more accessible online and their roles becomes less about housing books and documents, but connecting Library Users online (seamless). Online access will also accommodate the off-campus Library User better. Apart from these 21st Century “high technology” libraries that are coming into existence, there is the “digital divide” that must be taken into account as Africa is both a developed and developing society. Much as librarians promote “e-learning” “online learning” and “blended learning” and provide online access through the library’s online webpages and physically in Learning/Information and the Knowledge Commons, it must be kept in mind that printed books still play a critical role in supporting library users that are disadvantaged. Furthermore, students, academics and researchers no longer need a library simply for access. Instead, they require a place that encourages participatory learning and allows for co-construction of understanding from a variety of sources. In other words, instead of being an archive, libraries are becoming a Learning Commons. In this paper, the presenter will allude to: What we re-designing (Old library space to new library spaces); For whom, that is what type of library users- the 21st Century  library users also called the generation X, Y and Z or the Information Generation (iGens); redesigning libraries to support e-learning, bended learning and using platforms such as Moodle and Blackboard. A question that also needs to be answered is: will there still be bricks and mortar in the 21st century will or library services be rendered in the “cloud”? The presenter will also discuss the new concept of “Makerspaces” and how this can be accommodated in 21st Ccentury libraries.  “Bring your own Device” (BYOD) is another exciting venture that will be discussed. Lastly, examples will be given of university libraries in South Africa that have changed from 20th Century (print only) libraries to 21st Century eectronic libraries where through their websites they support mobile and e-learning and also providing online access to Catalogues, Journals, Electronic theses and dissertations and social media platforms such as Google Scholar, Facebook, Wikipedia and others.