Revitalizing Library Spaces for a Sustainable Future: A Hong Kong Perspective
The traditional role of the library as an acquirer and preserver of collections has changed dramatically over the past few decades. The introduction of the Internet and ubiquitous mobile technologies, in addition to advances in wireless networks, has significantly altered the delivery model of scholarly information. The digital library nowadays provides access to a wealth of information via full-text databases and other electronic resources such as e-journals and e-books. Users can find information anytime and anywhere without physically entering the library. The success in building virtual learning spaces reinforced perceptions of the library’s diminishing importance as a physical space (Carlson, 2001). In contrast, Scott Bennett indicated that ‘some of the social dimensions of learning cannot be fully realized or substituted for in virtual space. These include, for instance, the learning opportunities that come with racial, ethnic, religious, and economic diversity’ (2007, p. 16). Physical library spaces are still needed even as virtual learning spaces have become increasingly important. How academic libraries can revitalize their spaces in response to fundamental changes in students’ learning modes and move to an innovative, user-centred approach has become a great challenge in the 21st century. This chapter discusses the library as a learning space in general and is not restricted to business libraries. It introduces the current trends and practices of Hong Kong academic libraries, with a special focus on how the Chinese University of Hong Kong Libraries revitalized their spaces by adopting the Learning Commons Model. The planning and strategies for creating the Learning Garden and Research Commons in its Main Library extension are explored.