Thank you, Joshua, for this beautiful letter. You are correct: we care deeply about the libraries and want to engage with libraries and library staff to further scholarship. Thank you for writing this, and thank you for sharing it with your colleagues and with us!
I stopped by the Lamont Cafe yesterday to attend the “What is a Library? What is the Future of Libraries?” discussion sponsored by the students who have “occupied” the space. It was overall a really positive experience for me, and I’d encourage you to stop in and engage with the students if you have a chance.
You may perhaps feel ambivalent about the technique of “occupying” in this situation or you may (like me) find that you do not completely agree with some of the positions the group has taken. Don’t let that stop you from going. The people I met were really interested in engaging with libraries and library staff to further scholarship.
The way I see it is that some of our patrons have put together a week of informal focus groups … we should be paying attention. This is an opportunity for us to hear direct input from our patrons, establish new relationships, and imagine some creative ways that we can address their scholarly needs. It also seems to have brought together scholars from a range of disciplines. One of the things many of us want libraries to be is a meeting ground where scientists, humanists, and social scientists can encounter one another and cross-pollinate ideas. This is a concrete attempt at that.
The students have tried to create a space for collaboration and discussion in the Cafe, and have even started offering services like writing workshops. These are examples of exactly the kind of things we should want to see in our library spaces.
Please go visit if you have the chance. This doesn’t need to be simply a reaction to anxiety about the transition, it is also an opportunity to engage with and help create a successful transition.
Countway Library of Medicine