The transformation of Higher Education institutions has been an ongoing journey, gaining momentum due to the sweeping changes triggered by COVID-19 and a growing awareness of existential threats like climate change, inflation, housing insecurity, and institutional discrimination. These shifts have left a lasting imprint on the way academic libraries operate, offer services, and stay relevant. During the pandemic, academic libraries often led the way by swiftly returning to on-site operations to ensure core services were accessible to students and faculty. The landscape has changed significantly, with many institutions experiencing dramatic shifts.
My personal experience, beginning at my institution in May 2020, reflects this turbulence. In just two years, I had four different bosses, each with their unique vision for my role and department. Additionally, we welcomed a new University President and Provost. As I prepare to transition to a new role after three years, our Library Director is also stepping down. My story is not uncommon. The importance of higher education and libraries is being reevaluated, and the changes brought on by remote learning have given rise to new service models and expectations. Many library professionals have opted for retirement, while the needs and expectations of students on campus have evolved. As colleges and universities redefine their objectives, adopt new technologies, and revamp their methodologies, libraries are prompted to adapt as well. This adaptability is crucial for libraries to maintain their role in the academic ecosystem.
In the coming year, the ACRLog team will share posts that delve into these areas and more, showcasing how different institutions and individuals are navigating change. We’ll highlight instances of tension, failure, and success, with the hope of inspiring our community to engage and share what’s working. We acknowledge that there’s no perfect formula for managing institutional change, but we believe that the insights we share will stimulate discussions and help us all support one another as we shape the “new normal” for academic libraries.
Libraries, in their pursuit of academic support, must remain agile, adaptable, and forward-thinking. Embracing change is fundamental to maintaining their role as essential academic partners. As institutions evolve, academic libraries have a responsibility not only to adapt but to thrive in the new environment, continuing their legacy of nurturing knowledge, innovation, and intellectual growth.