Editor's note: Over the next several months, Case Daily will run a series of stories focusing on how the Case Western Reserve University libraries support the research and scholarship endeavors of faculty, students and staff.
The first in the series is an overview of Kelvin Smith Library and the kinds of challenges the modern library faces:
The Kelvin Smith Library (KSL) is one of seven libraries that comprise the library system at Case Western Reserve University. Built more than 10 years ago, KSL occupies a spot at the heart of campus and is a proud successor to the Freiberger and Sears libraries.
The largest of the seven, KSL supports the entire campus and the complex needs of faculty and students through traditional means and by constantly crossing the threshold into new territory.
According to University Librarian Joanne Eustis, KSL and all libraries face challenges unlike those seen before. "Libraries cannot continue to operate as in centuries past: vellum tomes chained to tables accessible to the privileged few. Today’s libraries must expand the horizons of their service model and meet the challenges of working in partnership with as many people as possible—to do more with fewer resources."
Eustis added that this new landscape "requires creative and innovative responses such as books, journals and other documents that can be viewed online by thousands; conservation techniques for pixels and for paper and for sheep skin; the ability to analyze not just a book, but every word in it; and then to look for patterns of word use and to discover new ways of seeing what we thought we already knew."
In order to accomplish these expanded goals, new tools—as well as new understandings of how those tools work—must emerge. This falls in line with the original mission of libraries, Eustis said. "Teaching is something that libraries have always done; only the tools are changing."
She added that as the new resources and understandings converge, "a new energy oscillates. Something new is built on the landscape: a wind turbine, new partnerships, a new vision of what will be and a new direction that turns our faces forward."
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