According to Inside Higher Ed, several liberal arts schools have already begun integrating their IT and library functions into one administrative unit. Predictably, people are peeved. At least one issue of the New Yorker was shoved aside in a gesture of dissatisfaction, sources say.
The justification for this move are manifold: Students will be better served, resources will be allocated, peace will reign over the earth. But what is interesting is that no one has pointed out what, to me, is obvious: a library IS a form of information technology. Period.
Unfortunately, we’ve gotten into the habit of thinking of a library, in its venerable, dusty, inefficient, boring and oppresive guise, as falling into the category of “things one simply must have” and not thinking about what it is there for: to store and facilitate the recall of information. Combining these units would help to reinforce this and, hopefully, encourage students to use the resources that we do have, since what we’ve been doing is apparently not working.
On an anecdotal note, I went into the library the other day to ask if I could bring one of my classes into a library classroom to show my students how to do research in the library databases. I was told that, if I brought them in, I had to let the librarians do the instruction. I was told this was to, “prevent other people from using our [The Library's?] classrooms.” I told them, thanks but no thanks. I’d rather do a video on Jing. I’m sure that the librarians are great teachers, but I’ve always been of the opinion that, since it’s my name on the door, I’m ultimately responsible for the quality of the students’ experience. I’d rather not pawn that off on someone else.
The point is, libraries are resources for faculty and students, not temples to some multi-armed god of officiousness. I’m personally in favor of anything that allows for a more efficient use of resources and allows students to have access to more computers. You know, for playing Bejeweled.