The following article was published in the September 2017 issue of the Journal of Academic Librarianship.
Utrecht University, Netherlands
Journal of Academic Librarianship
Volume 43, Issue 5
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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See Also: Conference Paper: “Something is Lost, Something is Found: Book Use at the Library Shelves”