The staff of Barbour Library at Pittsburgh Seminary recently hosted two events regarding the future of theological libraries. First up was an event for Board members and supporters to learn about the upcoming (and very exciting!) renovations in the library. We began with a reception in the library lobby. After some time for eating and mingling, we took the visitors on tours of the building and told them about future renovations. We also pulled out a few special items from the collection to “wow” them. The evening ended with a presentation by a representative from the architectural firm that made the plans for Barbour Library. We envision a more open and inviting space. Tentative plans include group study rooms, individual quiet study rooms, reading lounges, a patio in front of the building, and a large, open area on the main floor. Some form of coffee area and an extended hours section are possibilities, too. Stay tuned! Check out more info about the project.
The following day the library hosted a colloquium called “Embrace the Change: Transforming Libraries in the 21st Century.” Our first guest speaker, Miguel Figueroa, is the director of the new Center for the Future of Libraries. Miguel talked about trends in libraries and learning environments. One trend is that more libraries are focusing on spaces that allow students to experience connected learning through peer-to-peer interaction and creating something tangible (or something virtually tangible like an app). Miguel also talked about “digital detox” zones where library patrons can escape from electronic equipment and focus on their work.
The second speaker, Dr. John Weaver, is dean of library services and educational technology at Abilene Christian University who has years of experience in theological libraries. My favorite part of his presentation was an explanation of a furniture company’s “Palette of Places” as it relates to libraries. The palette is divided into four sections: public-alone; public-together; private-alone; private-together. Each section illustrates a space where a particular type of learning or interaction occurs. For example, public-alone relates to places where groups of library patrons gather to read or study individually. Dr. Weaver showed a picture from the ACU library of several students sitting together at a table, but each student was doing something private, like using a laptop while using headphones or writing in a notebook. A group study room would be an example of a public-together space. Individual study rooms would qualify as private-alone, while a group of carrels is a private-together space (the walls of the carrel make it a private space with the grouping making it a together one).
Two local information science professionals, Dr. Tim Schlak of Robert Morris University and Dr. Liz Lyon of University of Pittsburgh, discussed the “space” issues libraries face and talked about data management in an era of ever-growing mounds of information. Finally, colloquium attendees divided into groups and had roundtable discussions about current and future concerns in different aspects of library operations, like interlibrary loan or reference.
The future of theological libraries is certainly bright!
Darlene Veghts is interim director and technical services librarian/lead cataloger in the Seminary’s Barbour Library. In addition to her duties as interim director, Darlene coordinates the cataloging and processing of library materials.