The Library as Collaboratory


Do the current library spaces support cross-departmental communication and should they in the future?  This question elicited a mixed response during our October interviews with students and staff.

Overall the majority of those asked feel that the library does not currently support this well although many interviewees did provide ideas about how this might be remedied. Most interestingly 20% of participants thought that this was not the libraries responsibility and that it should be up to individual departments to develop this.

We know that the landscape of the academic library is changing. Partially in response to technology but also reflecting changing teaching and learning habits including an increase in collaborative learning.   So although it may not be the responsibility of the library to promote cross-disciplinary education, it does seem that it could be well placed as a neutral ground to support this.

One concept that recurred throughout the interviews was the notion of a cross-departmental project space – although little detail was supplied about what that might look like and do. In an earlier blog article, ‘What will the future UoW library offer?’ We discussed several ideas for new services including ‘Maker Spaces’ and ‘Fab Labs’ which are technology-rich places where people gather to co-create, share resources and knowledge, work on projects, network and build.  Could this be the type of project space that would work in the UoW?

Alternatively, something more social might be preferred.  One participant suggested an app where you can meet people working on complementary projects – sort of an academic Tinder!   There could be a relaxed lounge supporting this app in the library where people meet casually to advance their ideas. Perhaps it is a showcase or exhibition featuring the work of all departments or cross-departmental projects promoting collaboration.

As usual, we would love to know what you think.  Should the library become a Collaboratory where students from complementary or contrasting departments can meet to invent, imagine and create? And if so, what does this look like? Leave your comments below of direct message us on Twitter @WarwickLibScape.

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