By: Kevin McDonnell
NIAGARA UNIVERSITY, N.Y. – In 2019 we are more connected than ever before by the technology that permeates our everyday lives. It is possible for us to know instantaneously what is happening around the world. We can communicate with individuals from all different types of countries and collaborate in ways that were unavailable to our parents and grandparents when they attended college. However, in a world in which globalization has eroded the national, ethnic, and linguistic boundaries that divided us we sometimes find ourselves often increasingly isolated. The rise of Amazon has led to the shuttering of retail stores and the death of mega-bookstores like Barnes and Noble. It seems that in many instances public spaces are dying to make way for commercial products or residential communities. It may be easy to assume that along with the death of bookstores the library would soon follow. Libraries have seemed to remain resilient against the torrential technological storm.
Maybe it’s just the book nerd in me that wants to boldly note the importance of libraries. However, it is becoming increasingly evident the need for public spaces in our society that are predicated upon equality and access. There are complex conversations happening now that focus on the concept of creating public spaces where inclusivity is the foremost goal. Libraries traditionally have been viewed as offering access to higher learning and to provide an outlet to members of marginalized or disadvantaged communities. As students attending a university, we should recognize our own fortune in being able to have access to knowledge instantaneously and frequently. In our case it may be easy to take for granted the library we have here on campus and the services it provides and the fact that we are not lacking for access to public spaces. David Schoen, Director of the Library, had this to say when discussing it’s role:
“I see an academic library serving as a kind of living room of a campus. A place where students come for a variety of needs—academic, social, and entertainment.”