WKU talks library of the future

Elizabeth Beilman

WKU’s libraries will be undergoing

changes because as Bob Owen, vice president for Information

Technology said, “obviously the world’s changed.”

Owen, along with Robbin Taylor, vice president for Public Affairs,

and WKU’s libraries, will look at better integrating technology

into the libraries.

This will eventually mean eliminating bookshelves and freeing up

some space, Owen said.

“We have witnessed and continue to witness the digitization of

information,” Owen said.

Owen said an idea that he will bring to a committee is to create a

learning commons that is technologically friendly.

“It’s basically an idea of creating a

really warm, inviting space where students can come and do their

research and have librarians available to help them even though

they’re doing their research online,” he said.

This commons wouldn’t be a computer lab, but rather an open space

with power connections and wireless Internet, Owen said.

He said a possible model of this space is at the University of

Wisconsin-Milwaukee, which has an “open, inviting, friendly


President Gary Ransdell said redesigning the libraries would mean

renovations to current facilities rather than a new building.

“Those buildings have some real needs. They have a lot of age on

them,” Ransdell said. “I don’t see in the next 10 years a new

building, but I do see significant renovation of our library


Connie Foster, department head of Library Technical Services, said

the committee will discuss other areas as well.

“We are going to explore various organizational structures, both

some within and some without, meaning external review as well as

internal review,” Foster said. “There are changes that could occur

in terms of department names more reflective of current


Foster said it’s too early to tell what concrete changes could be


“We hope to have a plan in place, or at least a preliminary draft

of a plan, by the end of fall semester,” she said.

Foster replaced Michael Binder as interim dean of Libraries on


Binder will be a special assistant to the provost from April 18 to

June 30 and will return to the libraries as a faculty member July

1, Foster said.

“There’s going to be a very interactive process with a lot of

discussion and dialogue,” Owen said.