Academic Libraries: "Social" or "Communal?" The Nature and Future of Academic Libraries
Gayton, Jeffrey T.
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The apparent death of academic libraries, as measured by declining circulation of print materials, reduced use of reference services, and falling gate counts, has led to calls for a more “social” approach to academic libraries: installing cafés, expanding group study spaces, and developing “information commons.” This study compares these social models with the traditional academic library, whose spirit is best understood as “communal.” It argues that this communal spirit is unique, and greatly valued by academic library users. Efforts to create a more social academic library threaten this communal spirit, and may do more harm than good.