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Open Stacks in Library Design

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Technological innovation has fostered structural shifts in scholarly communications and cooperation among academic institutions over time. The shift into ubiquitous digital content ushered in transformational changes to research and

Technological innovation has fostered structural shifts in scholarly communications and cooperation among academic institutions over time. The shift into ubiquitous digital content ushered in transformational changes to research and teaching. The change presents an opportunity for libraries to transform themselves as well, rethinking how we select, display, share, and curate creative, scholarly, and informational works in all formats. People who use academic libraries have great interest in where these works reside, how they are accessed, and how their future is ensured. We at Arizona State University (ASU) Library propose that the bookless library model represents an unfulfilled promise to those we serve. Instead, we posit that academic libraries can still host tangible materials in multiple formats while adapting a user-focused and intentional design approach to scholarly works, keeping them in openly accessible shelves in our buildings, even as we increase available study space. Open stacks, available for viewing and browsing by the public, offer an intentionally designed, material experience as a key component of space design. They also remind us that not all knowledge exists in digital form.

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  • 2018-05-31

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The Future of Print in Open Stacks

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Arizona State University is embracing new ways of thinking about how open stacks can make books active objects of engagement for a new generation of students, rather than risk becoming

Arizona State University is embracing new ways of thinking about how open stacks can make books active objects of engagement for a new generation of students, rather than risk becoming mere backdrops for study spaces. By taking a deliberate design approach to answering the question of which books and where, ASU Library seeks to position print collections as an engagement mechanism. This chapter presents the transformative potential of open stacks, along with planning for access, assessment and inclusive engagement. The authors describe how ASU Library is using a major library renovation project as a catalyst to explore these ideas, and propose a pathway to developing shared solutions for more effective use of library collections.

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  • 2018

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The New Open Stacks

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From Transforming Print: Collection Development and Management for Our Connected Future, edited by Lorrie McAllister and Shari Laster (Chicago: American Library Association, 2021).

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  • 2021