McMaster University Libraries: Transforming our Future

September 14, 2006

Mike Ridley on “The 21st Century Library: What could it look like?”

Filed under: change,Library 2.0,Uncategorized — by ultransform @ 10:10 am

The Transformation Team invited Mike Ridley from the University of Guelph to join our transformation conversation today. We had seventy-two people turn out to hear his provocative talk. I wish we had podcast it, but we digital immigrants on the Transformation Team didn’t think of it! However, his slides are available, and the library owns the two books he recommended:

The Transformation Team encourages you to read, think, comment, talk, post! Cheers, Barbara



  1. There are a couple of points from Mike’s presentation that I thought were especially interesting and I wanted to highlight them with my own experiences.

    I think Mike’s idea of people actually using the library, using the space and not just the resources, is very exciting and important. It makes so much sense to me to bring some of the other information forums (such as booths that would otherwise be in the already overcrowded student centre) into a space in the library. Such events would reinforce the purpose of the library, draw people into the building, and be more suitably located in a place where people can easily find more information about that subject. A favourite event of mine during my own university experience was a discussion forum called “MindTap,” where a speaker would be invited to talk on a subject they had personal experience with, whether it be a politician forming policy or a former addict talking about life on the street, and then everyone could engage in discussion afterward. This monthly event was always held in a seedy bar downtown because there was no appropriate venue on campus. How exciting would it be to use the library, the hub of the community’s information, as a place for active learning and engagement?!

    Another thing I was very happy to hear from him is the integration of the library within the actual faculties of the university in the form of ‘classroom’ instruction. I was excited to hear that there is a requisite course in the Commerce program directed towards understanding and managing information. I see this as probably the best way to help ‘information find people.’ I continued to take courses after completing my degree in English, and from my university in Thunder Bay I was able to take a couple courses with one of Mike’s librarians, Jane Burpee on research and the internet. I thought I had a pretty good grasp of how to find information on the net and use its resources until I took her courses. If such a course had been required, or even available, when I had started my degree the benefits to my academic career would have been immeasurable. Even now those basic tools aid me in every aspect of my life, from my job to everyday curiosities. It’s one thing to offer reference help within the physical environment of the library, and entirely another to reach the students where they already are, the classroom. With so many librarians skilled in different subjects, what better way to promote the library, it’s resources and academic advancement overall than to give the students and faculty themselves the skills to find, manage and make sense of all the information that’s out there.

    Comment by Sara Perkins — September 14, 2006 @ 12:52 pm |Reply

  2. Sara has touched on two issues which have caused a lot of “buzz” in the library since Mike’s presentation.

    First, I’ve heard a lot of talk about Mike’s concept of the “Academic Town Square.” The traditional role of the library as the keeper of books and the monastery for quiet reflection no longer works. Our users want and need spaces to group think. And they need spaces to set up information booths to share their work with others. Last year many groups booked space in the lobby of Mills Library. Student groups booked space to promote the work of their club. Academic departments used the space to market new services for students. The displays can be lively: In one notable series of bookings, our colleagues from the Centre for Leadership in Learning blocked time to run “mock classrooms” – to demonstrate alternative techniques for teaching in large lecture halls. This use of space can be messy (and yes, even disruptive at times), but it helps position the library as the “Academic Town Square” within the larger campus community.

    The importance of integrating the library into the learning environment has also sparked significant discussion. Librarians in Mills, Innis and Thode conduct hundreds of instruction sessions for thousands of students each year. For the most part, they are “one off” sessions arranged with specific faculty for specific courses. The concept of enhancing our role in the learning process is one of the key objectives of the Transformation process.

    Comment by Vivian Lewis — September 18, 2006 @ 6:41 am |Reply

  3. Just the fact that you have though about Podcasting is good. Hopefully there will be some podcasts in the future. There is a private library in Chicago called the Pritzker Military Library does Podcasts of their events:
    I have purchased a few books based upon listening to the podcast events where authors come to speak about their books.

    Comment by Joey Coleman — September 23, 2006 @ 7:16 pm |Reply

  4. 2 things:

    1. The Academic Town square idea has an interesting history going back to Jefferson’s design an “Academical Village” which inscribed academical functions onto architecture. The heart of the village was the rotunda (a Pantheon inspired building) that was the library. Administrative buildings were nowhere to be found! (See

    2. I didn’t hear Mike present, but on his slides I was intrigued by the idea that the second major transformation is from “people finding information” to “information finding people.” What does that mean for librarians. If in the old model they helped people find info, does that mean today they should help info find people? What would it mean to help a great web site find someone? Another way to think about this is what Greg Crane (of “What to do with a million books” calls “recombinant documents” which are document objects with the smarts to adapt to users and to find them.

    Comment by Geoffrey Rockwell — September 28, 2006 @ 5:50 pm |Reply

  5. i have a podcasting website and i got some good deal of subscribers too*~.

    Comment by Aidan Bailey — October 5, 2010 @ 6:41 am |Reply

  6. my cousin loves to podcas all day long, he has this sort of podcas obsession thingy;.-

    Comment by Welder work  — October 20, 2010 @ 2:07 pm |Reply

  7. me and my sister loves podcasting, we do love to podcast our daily activities and our hobbies `

    Comment by Security Light · — November 9, 2010 @ 11:28 pm |Reply

  8. Comment by grosir dan eceran tas branded murah 2011 — September 20, 2013 @ 2:53 pm |Reply

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