May 26, 2022

New Article/Case Study: “Predicting the Role of Library Bookshelves in 2025”

The following full text article was recently published by The Journal of Academic Librarianship.


Predicting the Role of Library Bookshelves in 2025


Coen Wilders
Utrecht University Library, The Netherlands


The Journal of Academic Librarianship
Available online 19 July 2017
doi: 10.1016/j.acalib.2017.06.019


University libraries are questioning the added value of open shelves with books. As scientific publications are increasingly available in electronic format, which role do bookshelves have in the future library space? The Utrecht University Library case study invites librarians to fundamentally rethink how they could strengthen the function of open shelves in their library. Based on acquisition and user data, and on interviews with publishers and users, this article suggests that in 2025 bookshelves could play an important role in providing access to those publications which are preferred by users in paper format. However, bookshelves should no longer focus solely on paper publications, but on digital publications too, as most library collections increasingly become hybrid. Moreover, libraries should also think of ways to enhance the inspiring role of bookshelves. Then, the open shelves could have added value within the library space of the future, providing access to a hybrid collection and an inspiring place to study.

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About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.